29 November 2022  | Israel’s renewable percentage of total energy production 9%

Off the Grid

Innovation for rural communities,
tackling world poverty in developing countries

The problem

Millions of people worldwide are living in regions lacking national grids – the basic 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. 

 

Our solutions - Israeli innovation

1. Demonstration Center

Eilat-Eilot established an Off-Grid Technologies demonstration center, located in Kibbutz Ketura. The center is a site for technologies validation/ test-field, 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.

The technologies displayed at the center 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 solutions, and promotion of eco-tech to the developing world.

You can visit the village – schedule a tour through Ketura tourism

2. Marketing in Kenya

In 2019, Eilat-Eilot established a subsidiary called Keilot, which operates in Kenya. Keilot is an impact company that provides innovative solutions combined with a convenient financing packages for ‘off the grid’ population.

Keilot is recognized by some of Kenya’s largest banks, cooperatives and other business entities that make it possible to offer financing solutions to the local population. Our business model covers all aspects of the business including installation, training and support for end users.

Keilot offers a holistic approach from location, to installation, training and support.

Learn more by visiting KEILOT website

Keilot's activities are carried out in accordance with these
United Nations sustainable development goals (SDGs):

the demonstration center up close

How the village was built

3 traditional construction methods, from different regions of the world + slight structural improvements

Rural Structure

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.

Earthbag Dome

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 design 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 many climates worldwide.

Urban Structure

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 improvement 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.