The Off-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):

Our Demonstration Village

In building the village we focused on three traditional construction methods, from different regions of the world, with each method adding slight structural improvements.

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.

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.

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.

Innovations

Energy

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.

Food

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

Water

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:

  • No electricity is needed.
  • Very easy to use.
  • Produces 500 Liters per hour.
  • No maintenance is required.
  • No spare parts as well as dedicated manpower.
  • High produced water quality assured by the medical device used as filtration unit.

Energy

Sea-salt Batteries

DRTen’s seasalt batterys are connected to solar panels and are an inexpensive environmental solution for energy storage. The battery is made of sea salt and minerals.

The benefits of the seasalt battery are the high temperature-resistant, long-life capability and manufactured from cheap and non-polluting materials.

Energy

Lumos Solar Electricity

Lumos enables people to replace hazardous and expensive kerosene generators and lanterns with modern solar electricity that can power lights, cellphones, fans, computers, TVs and other compatible small electronic devices. By offering Solar Power as a Service, Lumos offers homes and small businesses a simple and affordable way to pay for electricity in small installments using their mobile phones. How it works? 

  1. Customers sign up and pay one-time commitment fee, pick up the Lumos kit and easily install the solar panel on their roof. 
  2. Customers place the indoor unit inside their house and access electricity by making a payment via their mobile phone airtime. 
  3. Customers can enjoy modern solar electricity, once the payment is credited.

Food

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.

Water

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:

  • 100% recyclable
  • Zero corrosion
  • no calcium deposits
  • Extremely simple installation (plug and play)
  • Strong and flexible materials
  • No electricity is needed

Water

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.