Night Fishing by the Light of the Sun in East Africa

© The Meeco Group. An artist's rendering of the sun2fish buoy at work.

Fishermen in eastern Africa light their way onto Lake Victoria each night with lanterns fueled by thousands of liters of kerosene, a costly substance that also poses pollution risks. But a Swiss firm believes both problems can be solved with its new solar-powered buoy system.

The sun2fish system by The Meeco Group is made up of a land-based solar photovoltaic station and the eight stainless-steel buoys it can recharge simultaneously. Each buoy is equipped with a strong LED light that lasts for up to eight hours, and can also be used to provide household lighting on land, the company says.

© The Meeco Group. The recharging station can accommodate eight buoys (detail, two images at lower left).

Meeco, which has been testing out the system in Tanzania this year, says it envisions fishermen creating cooperatives to rent the buoys out on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Kerosene A Costly Burden
According to the lighting company Osram Sylvania, which has also conducted off-grid power projects around Lake Victoria, fisherman in the area spend up to 70 percent of their income on kerosene.

"Every month, fishermen spend more money due to the continuous increase of kerosene prices. Savings produced with sun2fish make it a profitable investment in less than two years time," Meeco sales director Dieter Trutschler said in a recent press release.

© Designnobis. Conceptual diagram for the Triton Warning System.

Solar Buoys Could Enhance Maritime Safety Too
The potential market for solar-powered buoys isn't limited to small fishermen. The Turkey-based design firm Designnobis won a Golden A' Design Award in the Social Design Category for its concept for the Triton Warning System.

This self-contained system of buoys each has its own on-board solar- and wind-power generators and can be used in various configurations to guide traffic around sea shores and the entrances to marinas and ports.

Tags: Africa | Fishing | Solar Gadgets | Turkey