The Solar Thermal Training & Demonstration Initiative

SOLTRAIN Demonstration Systems at Malealea Lodge and Pony Trekking Centre in Lesotho

Written by Ivan Yaholnitsky on 26 July 2017
SWHs installed in guest rooms at Malealea Lodge

Malealea Lodge is a 55 room lodge with bar,dining room, recreational hall and thrivingtourism business. It is located about 75km from Maseru in the Mafeteng District and hosts approximately 5 000 visitors per year. There are 28 permanent staff, 12 temporary, 15 pony trekking guides, 30 horse owners, and 15 hiking guides working as commercial community partners. The contribution of the Lodge to the local community is immense.

In August 2016, the status quo at the Lodge was the following from a power and energy perspective: electrical power was available for 5 hours daily from 16:00 to 21:00 and provided by a 35KVA diesel genset that burned approximately 35 litres of fuel per day. All hot water was provided by LPG instant heaters and 48kg cylinders. There was a problem with the availability of water and quality especially in summer because of intermittent flooding and contamination of the source.

Several issues of an economic and technical nature were apparent in this situation. The advent of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 provides a good framework for understanding this cluster of problems at Malealea and how they were addressed. The SDGs comprise an interdisciplinary structure which grasps the connection between problems. In plain speak you have to solve several problems all together in most instances. SDG 17 is Partnerships for the Goals and its underlying logic is that complex networks are necessarily involved in the solution of most problems. The basis for SDG17 is trust, discipline, organizational efficiency and excellent communications.

A complementary group of social, business and institutional forces combined in this example to carry out the necessary work. The network included Malealea Lodge and Pony Trekking, SOLTRAIN III Lesotho, Telecom Techniques which is major integrated renewable energy business located in Port Elizabeth, and Bethel Business and Community Development Centre/Solarsoft.

The people involved included Glen and Mick Jones (Malealea), Werner Weiss (AEE Intec/ SOLTRAIN), Andre Friend (Telecom Techniques), Ivan Yaholnitsky, Sehloho Holomo and Stephen Lelimo (BBCDC), and BBCDC graduates.

A cluster of technologies and social capital assembled, went to work and materialized in an orderly fashion overall. BBCDC and Telecom Techniques replaced the diesel generator with an 8.4kW solar micro-grid, and BBCDC renovated the water supply infrastructure. Once this was done, SOLTRAIN came to the fore and facilitated installation of 1 x 100 litre solar water heater (SWH), followed by 5 x 150 SWH, followed by another order for 5 x 150 SWH just 3 months later.

The success of this project is due to the professionalism and commitment of all parties involved. Malealea Lodge has resolved in the long term program to phase out all the LPG water heating equipment and replace it with SWHs. Silent clean power is now available 24/7, water quality and availability is enhanced along with pumping infrastructure, and 11 SWHs are operating daily.

Radiation conditions in Lesotho are generally excellent, and according to the manager Glen Jones, since installation of the SWHs, there was no need for back-up in the rooms equipped with SWHs after several months of operating experience.

8.4kW PV system