You have heard about an iPhone or an iPad, but have you ever heard about the incredible iShack? In this short video we see a team of grad students introduce the amazing South African solar powered shack to the public. It has the potential to change the lives of so many South Africans…

We would like to start off by thanking All Africa News Deck for the awesome video and for the great feature!

This project really goes to show the benefits that solar power can bring. Not only to one person, but an entire nation!

Introducing the iShack Project

The iShack Project is using solar electricity to demonstrate how ‘green’ technologies can be used appropriately to incrementally upgrade informal settlements and slums and at the same time build local enterprising capacity and resilience within the community. This enterprise development model recognises the significant existing social, human and physical capital in these communities which can leveraged for sustainable development.

Our vision goes far beyond simply providing clean, safe and affordable energy. Other technologies and services that could be incorporated into the model include off-grid sanitation, ecological housing, water services and food production.

A Sustainable, Scalable, Solar Electricity Social Enterprise

SIIL’s flagship project is the iShack Project, a large-scale energy utility that provides a pay-for-use solar electricity service to residents of an informal settlement called Enkanini in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
The off-grid utility provides household electricity to power lights, television and other small media appliances. The energy capacity of the service is somewhat higher than what is typically deployed in rural off-grid electricity projects elsewhere in the world.

Fundamental to the technology design is the modular scalability of the household installation so that the electricity supply can grow incrementally as the technology evolves and as costs come down. For example, The iShack Project has started to pilot solar fridge upgrades and is developing a financial model to make such upgrades affordable and accessible.

An alternative, incremental response to energy poverty?

Part of the research work focussed on energy poverty, and this lead to the concept of the ‘iShack’: an improved shack comprising a range of dwelling upgrades, using ecologically sound concepts, technologies and materials such as solar electricity, recycled materials, and passive house design – all aimed at improving the holistic energy utility of the shack. Practically this translated to a shack, still built conventionally with corrugated iron and wood, but with improved insulation and ventilation, better thermal comfort levels and access to clean, solar electricity).

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