Australia’s original solar brand, Solahart, has teamed up with not-for-profit organisation the Alight Project to pioneer a ground-breaking redistribution program that supplies top-tier solar panels from Australia to disadvantaged communities in Nigeria.
This exciting initiative provides much needed solar energy to Nigeria and extends the life of solar panels.
Solahart Hervey Bay, headed up by Darren Page, is working with Tina Ali, founder of the Alight Project, to execute the solar redistribution program.
“As part of this program, we redistribute working solar panels from Australia to communities in need in Nigeria. They use the panels to power basic lighting and to charge devices such as phones, computers and tablets – ultimately anything that can be charged from the sun.”
“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,” says Tina Ali.
Tina formed the Alight Project as she has family in Nigeria and through frequent visits, realised that many communities were impacted by unreliable or limited access to electricity. In some instances, villages have 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, so I reached out to my local Solahart dealer to see what we could do,” says Tina.
The process involves Solahart Hervey Bay employees collecting used yet working solar panels from the area and collating them for Tina, who then organises the panels to be shipped to Nigeria.
In Australia, whilst the lifespan of solar panels is upwards of 10 years, it is common that within the process of system upgrades, many panels that are being replaced are still in excellent working condition.
“A growing part of our business is collecting used solar panels. This occurs when a household is upgrading an old system, or when one or two panels are no longer performing at peak capacity, many customers choose to upgrade the entire system with new technology,” says Darren Page.
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. They can, however, still be utilised to power essential appliances – such as those used in the communities in 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 these panels in a sustainable and meaningful way – and help those who could use it most,” says Darren.
“When Tina came into our Solahart Hervey Bay dealership in March, 2021 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.”
The program has been so successful that other Solahart dealerships are also embracing this initiative.
Tina describes the redistribution program as a social enterprise as she sells the Australian solar panels to wholesale retailers in Nigeria who then distribute the high-quality panels to locals at a highly discounted price. Tina sells just enough panels to cover the costs of shipping the freight to Nigeria – and then donates the rest of the panels 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. Together, the Alight Project and Solahart Hervey Bay have established a brand new and accessible solar industry in Nigeria,” says Tina.