Competition for off-grid ideas

Solar turtleWWF South Africa is hoping for more entries into its annual Climate Solver Awards. The competition is a chance to show off innovative technologies geared towards reducing carbon emissions and boost energy access. Entries to the competition are open until January 30.

One of last year’s winners was SolarTurtle. The brainchild of company Ugesi Gold, which operates out of Stellenbosch, the aim was to give people affordable electricity off the grid. Packaged in a shipping container, the container unfolds during the day to charge numerous battery packs via solar power. These battery packs can be taken to where they are needed to provide electricity to power lights or appliances.

Its creators said the SolarTurtle would help reduce the use of kerosene, the primary energy source in many rural areas, while increasing access to cheaper and “greener” electricity.Rhino Modified Wood co-founder Stuart Prior said the endorsement was invaluable. His product, a high-durability and non-toxic timber used in place of typical tropical hardwoods, was picked out by judges because it was a viable alternative to the red meranti sourced from the rainforest which is typically used in construction. The WWF said using this product would contribute to slowing rapid deforestation.

The final winner was theAgriProtein Technologies, a Cape Town company, won the competition by using fly eggs to replace the use of fish in its animal feed. Known as Magmeal, the WWF said the product was estimated to emit 81 percent less greenhouse gases than fishmeal.

This is because producing fishmeal requires ocean trawling and long-distance transportation. Magmeal is created inside a facility by mass-rearing flies to produce eggs. The larvae, which feed on organic waste, are a good source of protein.

AgriProtein’s Jason Drew said the award had been a driving force behind the company’s expansion overseas.

Now the WWF is calling for new nominations to follow in the footsteps of last year’s winners.

“Companies entering must own the technology, have developed the product to post-pilot stage and have clear business plans for developing and promoting the product. The technology must be currently available to the market and able to deliver carbon emissions reduction about 20 million tons per year by 2022 or significantly contribute to improving energy access,” said the WWF’s special projects manager Louise Scholtz.

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