Millions of people worldwide are living in regions lacking national grids, the basic services and infrastructures of water, electricity and sewage. This lack of grid is referred to as living 'Off-Grid'. Living off-grid has a direct impact on the quality of life and health and it is the most prominent indicator of global injustice in the distribution of resources. In most cases, there is no future prospect of obtaining traditional grid connectivity.
Consequently, there is a need to formulate solid strategies and tools to deal with the implications of living off-grid. Implications such as irregular water supply for drinking and irrigation or the need to travel great distances to reach a safe water source, lack of electricity for operating medical clinics, schools and domestic homes, sanitation issues, difficulties in cooling and storing food and medicine safely, even charging small appliances like cell phones or laptops. The list goes on...
The attempt to deal with these ramifications is part of an overall effort to tackle world poverty in developing countries. Currently there are numerous organizations trying to deal with off-grid regions, such as the UN, the World Bank and other aid organizations and businesses. Support in these areas cannot be planned without familiarity of the sociological structures and individual needs and culture of these communities. In the past, several unreasonably complicated or high maintenance technologies were sent to off-grid areas with the best of intentions, yet these provided unsuitable solutions for the local people.
For these reasons, Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative established the Off-Grid village, located in Kibbutz Ketura. We have two partners for this project: the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, which has been working with African communities as well as Bedouin communities in Israel and Capital Nature cleantech incubator, who provide the technological backing of the project.
The village is a demonstration site for off grid infrastructure and technologies, a test-field / validation center for start-up companies, a center for training and seminars on the topic of renewable energy and off grid eco-tech, and a tourist center for raising awareness to the off grid world. We are constantly looking for solutions to be demonstrated at our village, aspiring to show-case a variety of solutions for Food-Energy-Water (FEW) solutions. Including medical relief-aid solutions for places that have undertaken natural weather disasters or marginalized populations like refugee camps. The technologies displayed at the village get a high exposure to a variety of worldwide visitors, purchasing delegations, government and decision makers, donors, delegations from developing countries and more (approx. 5000 visitors a year).
The project aims to be a catalyst for development of off grid technologies and solutions, and promotion of eco-tech to the developing world.
Tours and Seminars
We offer educational, hand on experience tours and seminars in off-grid living. Topic range from cooking, harnessing the sun, bio-gas, water, climatic building solutions and many more. All tours and seminars are tailor made to the group's background and available time. For details contact us
In addition, during 2017 an academic program in the field of "Off Grid Technologies for the Developing World" was launched as part of engineering studies. Read more about the academic courses.
Current Installed Technologies
The rural structure was planned in line with traditional and current designs found in rural developing regions. Only minor improvements were included in the design of the structure. Traditional houses are designed mainly to provide shadow and ventilation. The thatched roof, not completely sealed, allows for a more pleasant temperature within the building. This common climate-aware design found around the world is logical and incorporates many advantages. However, there is one main disadvantage to this design: lack of adequate natural light for reading and writing. To solve this problem Arch. Vital added windows below the roof to allow for hot air additional outlet as well as for more natural light to enter during the whole day.
The urban structure is an example of residential quarters in informal urban settlements (slums). The goal of this structure was to improve the design of the structure with minimal investment.
Ventilation is a very important issue not only for temperature reasons but also from a health standpoint of air turnover. Therefore,the design includes a double roof- The first roof is a roof of palm leaves allows air to enter through the outside, and the second roof is a metal roof that protects the structure from rain.
Another imporvment we included are plywood walls that include an insulating layer made from simple materials- straw or unprocessed sheep wool.
This structure is low priced and simple to build. Plywood was the chosen construction material as it is common and cheap in developing countries.
The method of building with sacks of soil, also called ‘Earthbags’, is relatively new and only recently has become practiced throughout the world. Iranian born American Architect Nader Khalili developed this method in the 1980’s. The main advantage of this method is rapid deployment and inexpensive construction. The outcome is a rigid, stable, and thermally balanced structure.
The dome shape offers the following advantages:
1. The static weight of the structure is divided better and there is no need for deep foundations.
2. The roof is part of the dome itself. The roof becomes the wall, so there is no need for beams and a separate roof structure.
3. It is relatively simple and cheap to create many designs with the Earthbag method. The bags are easily manipulated templates that can be filled with local soil.
In this structure we added a special designe of a two-layered dome casing- thermal mass layer of compacted local soil in sacks, and an external insulating layer made from a mixture of straw and soil. The combination of two layers gives the optimal thermal balance for manyclimates worldwide.
For more information watch a video showing sand bags building in Jordan
Portable Solar Power Generator
KALIPAK solar generator gives an answer in places where there is no national grid. Situations in which there is no network range around common situations: Grid disconnected (natural disasters), a forced situation (you want to connect but can't...), you choose to disconnect (outdoors). The system provides a useful solution for all the energy required for basic home use, when the network crashes or when there is no network.
The suitcase has three main elements: the ability to produce energy from 3 sources - electricity, vehicle and solar; Storage - Lithium-Ion batteries, the most advanced technology in the world today for a battery, in terms of weight and size ratio to mass amounts of energy; UseBility - Monitoring battery usage: very useful for all low voltage, working at 12V. Basically, everything that loads from a vehicle is loaded from the suitcase: a small refrigerator, a laptop, lighting, medical devices (a common solution today for charging professional and medical supplies is through car's charging. A problem when the vehicle needs to stay driven to operate the equipment, it pollutes). Many aid organizations are looking for such solutions.
From waste to energy
In our off-grid village we installed one of the smallest domestic bio-gas systems. The main advantage in this specific system is efficient waste disposal from organic trash and cattle manure- those are usually a nuisance and a hygiene problem, but with this system they can produce three necearay products:
1. Methane gas for cooking
2. Water heating
3. Home lighting
When we think of our most basic human needs, we often think of food, water and shelter and tend to forget a critical need: light. LuminAID has developed a product that is chargeable and easy to use, providing access to light in relief aid situations and also for outdoors use.
Combining kinetic and potential energy, GravityLight works by connecting an elevated weight - filled with rocks or sand - to a pulley system that slowly powers a generator as the weight falls to the ground. GravityLight is tested and compliant with numerous industry standards. Producing a light over five times brighter than a typical open-wick kerosene lamp, GravityLight offers a safe alternative to kerosene. In conducted trials, over 90% of the off-grid households who tried GravityLight said they would use it instead of a kerosene lamp.
A sustainable system for growing fresh vegetables at low costs and resources of LivingBox. The system is based on soilless culture technique -hydroponics. The system is built of modular units, fitting together similar to LEGO blocks, allowing it to be remodeled and adapted to any allocated area and to any desired size.
The system is able to grow a wide range of fruit and vegetables like: lettuce, basil, tomatoes, mint, kale, cucumbers, onions, pumpkin and more.
This method can save up to 80% water use, providing up to five times more produce and can be used anywhere: in the yard, at home or on the roof.
Solar oven - Vacuum Tubes
The tubes are installed in the southern part of the urban structure, so that they receive the most sunlight. The isolated tubes absorb the sun's heat and warm through a thermal effect into very higher temperatures, even higher than boiling temperature. The warmth and insulation quality also allows keeping the water hot throughout the night.
The receiver is made of a double layer with inner and outer glass and vacuum between them. Thanks to the vacuum the receivers insulate the heat excellently, allowing the water to heat up even on cold and sunny winter days - better ability to warm even on cloudy days without direct radiation.
An energy generating pot
The technology is installed at the bottom of the POWERPOT, which is produced in the United States, taking advantage of the heat energy emitted in the cooking process (from the fire), and in a thermoelectric process produces power.
The electricity that is generated can be used for almost any need - Charging the phone, lighting and actually it is an electrical outlet for everything.
The cooker works on a simple principle of concentrated radiation. On a normal sunny day, with this cooker, it is possible to boil water in about 15 minutes and cook rice or beans in an hour. The only option for off grid areas is cooking on an open fire, a polluting process that can become a health hazard due to smoke inhaling, and it's a process that requires effort in gathering the wood, chopping it and building the fire. A solar cooker for off grid areas is a healthy, sustainable solution.
An independent solar water distillation system developed by SunDwater, offers an accessible and simple solution to the problem of drinking water. Running the facility does not require a dedicated infrastructure or external power source. This unique solution by SunDwater converts contaminated or salty water into drinking water and/or irrigation by concentration radiation. This eco-friendly solution relies on natural energy sources and thus solves the problem of the drinking water availability without creating another environmental problem. It is easy to implement and operate on a daily basis.
Water and Waste Water Treatment
NUFiltration Ltd. developed the NUF™ technology in the field of water and waste water treatment.
NUF™ technology is based on a worldwide applied patent, providing for the reuse of sterilized medical devices - (UltraFiltration filters at 3.3 nm nominal filtration rate) - in the field of water treatment. NUFiltration Ltd revolutionary Water Purifier Unit has been specially designed for implementation in developed countries, with the following main characteristics:
Solar Water Pumping
Agriculture is the most important economic activity in developing countries, where over 50% of the population depends on it. Improving crop yields and quality can lead to a significant change in quality of life, especially in areas that are off-grid. As part of an agricultural project of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) in Ethiopia, a need for transporting water quickly and efficiently from a natural water source to remote and rural areas without electricity or water network. It was clear that the solution will come from renewable energy.
While irrigation, the system is placed near an available water source and uses solar energy to run electric water pump, which fills water storage tank. The crops irrigation and the flow is regulated by a manual tap. The system is designed so that it can provide electricity to activate household electrical appliances such as power tools and night lighting. In addition, the system is portable and can be transferred, and thus is able provide a solution for several farmers and produce an economic model that justifies its existence.
Solav innovative solar water heater
Solav is the first and only integrated, polymer-based solar water heating system in the world. Our low-cost solar water heating system was developed in order to enable the perfect solution for heating water within low-income communities in developing countries.
The Solav Thermosyphonic solar water heater (SWH) is a 100% polymer based system which enables the following advantages:
The Next Step - Africa
On July 2017, we traveled in a small delegation to Kenya and Tanzania in order to learn about the Off Grid world and some of the organizations and companies operating in the field, and to find a local partner to establish an African demonstration center.
We wish to expand our demonstration village project, to become a technology development center that will employ young developers on a regular basis. This development center will be part of a demonstration and sales center in East Africa.