Used solar panels from the Fraser Coast helping power disadvantaged Nigerian communities

USED solar panels from the Fraser Coast are being redistributed to help power basic lighting and charge electronic devices in disadvantaged Nigerian communities.

Used solar panels sent to Nigeria by the Alight Project are helping power disadvantaged communities. PHOTO: Supplied.

Solahart Hervey Bay has teamed up with not-for-profit organisation the Alight Project to send secondhand solar panels from Australia to the West African country.

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The initiative provides much-needed solar energy to communities in Nigeria and helps extend the life of solar panels.

The Alight Project’s Tina Ali said the panels are used to power basic lighting and charge devices such as mobile phones, computers and tablets, among other things.

“Helping to supply solar power to charge these devices allows communities in Nigeria to stay connected and provides the tools to foster work and education,” said Tina. 

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Tina, who has family in Nigeria and visits the country regularly, formed the Alight Project after witnessing the impact of a limited and unreliable electricity supply.

She said some communities had no power at all.

“I witnessed first-hand how unreliable the electricity in many of the villages was and solar power in Nigeria is far too expensive for most. I knew that here in Australia many of the solar panels that get replaced could still be used,” she explained.

Tina reached out to Solahart Hervey Bay to see what could be done.

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The company now keeps used panels for Tina who organises them to be sent to Nigeria.

While the lifespan of solar panels in Australia is upwards of 10 years, it is common for many that are still in working condition to be replaced as part of a system upgrade.

Solahart Hervey Bay’s Darren Page said a large part of their business was collecting used panels.

“This occurs when a household is upgrading an old system, or when one or two panels are no longer performing at peak capacity and customers choose to upgrade the entire system with new technology,” said Darren.  

According to Darren, these working panels are not suitable by Government standards to be reused in Australian households due to the large-scale nature of how Australians use solar energy at home.

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However, he said they can still be used to power essential appliances in countries like Nigeria.  

“During these replacements, we find that about 80 percent of solar panels can still be used so we were very keen to find a way to reuse them in a sustainable and meaningful,” said Darren. 

“When Tina came into our dealership in March and proposed the idea of rehoming working solar panels to communities in need in Nigeria, I thought it was an excellent idea and we have continued our partnership ever since.” 

Tina described the redistribution program as a social enterprise as she sells the Australian solar panels to wholesale retailers in Nigeria who then distribute the panels to locals at a highly discounted price.

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She sells just enough panels to cover the costs of shipping the freight and then donates the rest to vulnerable communities.  

“Providing Nigerian communities with top-tier solar panels from Australia is completely life changing and I am thrilled that we’ve found a cost-effective and sustainable way to keep the lights on, and keep these communities connected,” she said.

Click here for more information on the Alight Project.

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