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Solar street lights for sustainable development

Student research assistant Petrus Puleni, research supervisor Epafras Shilongo,Project supervisor Francis Smita and Anna Kapulwa of Women In Engineering Research Group. (Photograph by Hilmah Hashange)

Student research assistant Petrus Puleni, research supervisor Epafras Shilongo,Project supervisor Francis Smita and Anna Kapulwa of Women In Engineering Research Group. (Photograph by Hilmah Hashange)

An initiative by the Women In Engineering (WIE) Research Group at the Polytechnic of Namibia is aimed at promoting sustainable development through the use of renewable energy.
The research group is designing free standing solar street lights which will see the conversion of conventional street lights into environmentally friendly green street lights.
The research group consists of Project supervisor Francis Smita, a senior lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Polytechnic of Namibia, research supervisor Epafras Shilongo and student research assistants, Petrus Puleni and Anna Kapulwa who are both studying towards a Diploma in Electrical and Electronic engineering.
During one of the workshops organised by the WIE,the group visited various informal settlement areas in the outskirts of Windhoek and came across visible power cables that ran across the streets. According to project supervisor Francis Smita, this type of exposure of cables is what led the team to start thinking of safer alternative street lights.
The first phase which runs between January to December this year focuses on studying the existing light system in the country followed by an energy audit which determines the total electrical  consumption of the current light system.
“During this stage we will also investigate the total cost of installation, maintenance and energy consumption of one lamp for the existing and new light system,”explained Petrus Puleni.
The team also conducted a feasibility study of the new solar powered light emitting diode (LED) street light as compared to the existing light system.
During the second phase (January to December 2014), the group will commence with the design of a sample prototype solar powered LED street light where upon they will introduce the concept to City of Windhoek and eventually to other local authorities. Smita however said that they are already way ahead of time and are currently at the design stage.
The pilot lights will first be installed infront of of the Engineering building and library at the  Poytechnic of Namibia.
The project requires a total cost of N$ 71 610 and First National Bank has recently sponsored the research group with N$ 72 000 to kickstart of their project.

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