Solar Social Enterprise

For hydroponics to become sustainable, a free source of power and heat is required outside the grid. My Grow Cube can deliver this.

Photo of Eric Hawkins
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Solar Speedflex Co Ltd

Year founded

2012

Initiative stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $50k - $100k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 1 - 10

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Water
  • Rural development
  • Nutrition

Headquarters location: Country

  • China

Headquarters location: City

Hangzhou and Shenzhen

Location(s) of impact

Country 1 Sth Africa
Country 2 Senegal

Website

http://www.thermaltricity-int.com

Facebook URL

https://www.facebook.com/eric.hawkins.900

Twitter URL

eric_hawkins9

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

The problem with thousands of rural communities across Africa and India, is the limited or no electricity availability to set up a hydroponics food/plant growing facility
My developed PVT hybrid system, can provide 80% of the heat and power needed to maintain the growth of plants within a hydroponics facilty where soil and water is no longer the main concern in growing plants and food all year round

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

The global expansion in growing food through a hydroponics system even if within a greenhouse or polytunnel, still requires heat in periods of cold weather, electricity for cooling during hot weather and lighting to replace sunlight to keep plants growing through darkness outside.
Growing food is moving from greenhouses to windowless buildings to tunnels underground, but for this to be viable, heat and power is required.
The filtering of the water needs 28c for plants to increase root growth, to this we use a PV + Thermal hybrid solar panel PVT. For the pumps to work, the PV with battery storage provides the electricity with a back up genarator or a wind turbine.
To provide the plants with the sunlight 16 hrs a day, LED grow lights are installed, also requiring a renewable electricity resource.
Yes, there is a higher up from cost for this equipment, but the heat and power is free

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

As yet my sungrow cube/PVT system has yet to be reconised as a benifit to rural farmers, becouse most investors want guranteed returns.
One part of the system has been a great success in Sth Africa, that of the hot water storage tanks produced as flat pack for assembly on site.
Including an offgrid power and heat genaration system, useing a PVT hybrid solar panel with hot water and battery storage provides a sustainable food production with lower costs that can genarate higher profits to compete with the volume growers who pay for the heat and power needed to grow plants and food all year round

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

I have funded all the devlopment costs, commited 25 yrs of my life to off grid solar water heating and recently off grid power solutions.
I have yet to attract any other funding to see this concept up and running and doing good in this world of mass food production that uses billions of galls of water, electricity for HP sodium lighting and oil for heating, all adding to the end cost of food.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

The key innovation is to provide food production from a renewable energy resource

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

Born into a farming community in East of England in 1947, with my first job as a Chef which lasted for 12 yrs, followed by a period of being the owner of a greengrocer business, which followed by 25 yrs in renewable energy and growing my own vegtables and fruit in my very small garden in Dorset, UK.
It made sence to me to bring together all these experiances and skills to develop a way to grow food without a greehouse but use renewable energy hybrids to maintain the growing period all year round

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Social media

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Photo of Samir Vinchurkar

Amazing project for earth and even more for a civilization on Mars if we ever succeed. Best wishes