This project is a student engagement collaboration with sun shade energy, a company that promotes cooling through the design of appropriate window systems, shading structures as well as adding the benefits of generating energy for basic lighting. Our role as D lab students is to employ the design thinking process to ideate, design and prototype shading structures that makes use of solar energy to generate electricity for homes as a source basic lighting.
Ghana being in the tropical region of the world is exposed to generous amounts of sunshine. 21st century challenges resulting in ozone layer depletion thus global warming, record intensified sunshine and heat gains in the country. As though that was not enough the recent power crisis, popularly known as ‘dumsor’ inhibits us from keeping our homes and offices cool, as we are unable to power our cooling devices. As such, Ghana residents spend huge amounts of money on cooling devices like air-conditioners etc., just to keep cool. Base and middle of the pyramid citizens, however uncomfortably contend with the heat while a free potential source of alternative power (the sun) remains unexplored. In capitalizing on the energy providing potentials of the Sun and working with sun shade energy, we tackle this problem by proffering cooling solutions using the heat problems of homes in Ghana by targeting home windows to reduce air-loss and heat-gain – thus reducing energy demanding cooling imperatives in such a way as to make air-conditioning affordable to all levels of the economy.
As at the time we joined the SSE team, primary research had already been carried-out by the founding team. As such, we engaged from secondary research to revise the research findings obtained initially and familiarized ourselves with the companies’ mission and vision. We were also supplied with resources to familiarize ourselves with the solar industry and to understand heat gain in homes. As technical partners, perspective synchronization with our clients guarantees us standardized and timely solutions for SSE.
Our project required us to focus only on ideation. This is because the research and analysis stages were covered up by the sun shade energy team. We went through a series of brainstorming sessions together with both the CEO and by ourselves to improve some existing shading products of the company as well as design new shades with the provided materials. The information that was obtained from the secondary research findings helped us to develop human centred products that would be readily accepted by our target market.
We observed through our research that the human mind associates shade with leaves. As such we decided to create some of our products with leaf-centred themes.
We also had a series of discussions as well as brainstorming sessions with the CEO of the company to come up with the right products for the right market. She emphasized on the importance of doing research and ensuring that our solution or product is perfect for our target users (the market). Also that our designs must not require a lot of behaviour/culture change.
By the end of summer school, we had developed product designs for window shades, window panes and blades. The window blades were to be redesigned with wood instead of the usual plain or tinted glass for maximum cooling effect. The blades would also be lined with solar panels that would capture the suns energy, to be converted to solar energy and stored up in battery cells for domestic use.
The shading material was also designed in the form of blinds with some splattered with leaf themes. These would also be lined with OPV solar panels to harness and store up energy from the sun. These products are in line with our primary goal at SSE to mitigate heat gain in homes and provide an alternate source of energy for the people of Ghana.
The projects timeline had to be extended due to clashes with examination preparation and other school activities. We are however looking forward to the next stage which has to do with developing prototypes for the designs generated and watching them manufactured into products ready for market consumption.
- Sherrie Thompson-CEO and Founder of Sunshade Energy Ghana
- Carl Agbenyegah-Project Facilitator
- Pearl Gemegah-Project Lead
- Martin Ampah
- Gideon Larmie
- Alex Waweru
- Kofi Anamoah