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Renewable Energy in Africa (REnA)

Monday, December 9, 2019

REnA is an ongoing project being led by the Vancouver Chapter. It all started in early 2019 when a long time BCSEA member, Dr. Henry Mwandemere, approached the Chapter with the idea to bring renewable energy to Karonga, Malawi. Henry is a retired UN scientist residing in Vancouver and his mission is to combat energy poverty in Africa by addressing two key United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: 

#5 - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

#7 - Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable modern energy for all

Our volunteers are currently focused on three projects within Karonga:

1. Produce renewable natural gas - Malawians primary fuel for cooking is firewood and charcoal, but the government has imposed a moratorium on cutting trees as significant erosion is occurring. RNG is a potential energy source that can help mitigate this problem and Malawi has an abundance of livestock including pigs and cattle. REnA's goal here is to 1) introduce and educate Karonga of the benefits of biogas by 2) building an affordable demonstration anaerobic digester.

2. Install outdoor solar lighting at Chaminade Secondary School - Chaminade teaches day and evening classes, but at night, the school does not have outdoor lighting for students to go to the bathroom or to go between classrooms and their dormitory. Solar lighting technology will also give students a chance to interact with and learn about technology.

3. Bring pico solar lighting to 200 households in Karonga - Households use kerosene to light their homes at night. Koloboyi is what households in Malawi use for lighting at night when they do not have electricity (pictured left). Flashlights using alkaline batteries are considered a luxury and are very hard to come by within the community. REnA’s goal is to set up a study on how solar lighting impacts these remote and impoverished last-mile communities where grid electricity is unavailable.

To date, our volunteers have raised over $700 for REnA and are seeking more funding and donations in order to bring the three projects to fruition. Our goal is $8,000. Donations can be made here, followed by an email to info@bcsea.org to indicate that you would like your donation to be directed towards ReNA.

Are you interested in volunteering to be a part of this unique project? REnA's purpose is to provide volunteers with the opportunity to learn about and acquire real work experience and project management skills to identify, develop and implement renewable energy projects through fundraising, financing, team management, communications, and client relationship building. If you would like to get involved, please reach out to our project manager Kenny Yuen at kenny.yuen@bcsea.org and introduce yourself. We would love to hear from you and understand how you can help us achieve our goal!