French startup unveils off-grid solar refrigerators
From pv magazine France
French startup Koolboks has developed solar refrigerators for off-grid applications.
The units are equipped with solar panels and can operate either as refrigerators or freezers. The company said the fridges can offer continuous refrigeration for up to four days, even in limited sunlight.
Koolboks has also developed an energy distribution technique to promote cold storage in the system.
“We created ice compartments in the refrigerated cabinets,” the company said in a press release. “So, during the day, when the sun is available, which is often the case in Africa, ice is made in these compartments.”
At night, the energy transferred in the form of ice helps maintain the temperature of the cabinet. The ice storage system is complemented with lithium-ion batteries integrated into the freezer.
“Using this technology, we were able to reduce the cost of owning an off-grid solar refrigerator by almost 40%,” said Koolboks, adding that the refrigerators come with two LED lighting bulbs and USB ports to charge phones.
The refrigerators are marketed by local distributors who offer them for rent via pay-as-you-go (PAYG) technology, which allows individuals and businesses to be billed per month or per week. Koolboks is currently integrated with Aganza, Paygee and Solaris.
The company recently announced a distribution agreement with French telecoms giant Orange, which will market its products, initially in the Democratic Republic of Congo and then gradually in 11 other countries: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central Africa, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Jordan, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.
The PAYG payment system will be integrated into its digital platform, Orange Smart Energies.
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