05 / 1993
Twelve solar-powered radio stations were recently installed in Africa: three in the Congo, four in the Central African Republic, and five in Burkina Faso. This local rural radio development program was funded by the Agence de Cooperation Culturelle et Technique (Agency for Cultural and Technological Cooperation-ACCT, an inter-governmental organization of Francophone countries).
The solar power system uses the following components: solar panels (about 25 square meters), accumulators (batteries)to store energy, a system for controlling the flow of energy, and if needed, a DC to AC (direct current to alternate current)energy converter, to supply energy to the equipment.
The batteries are large enough to store enough energy to furnish 32 hours worth of power to the stations in case there is no sun. The African stations operate using low-power transmitters (mono-FM, 100-150 watts), and high performance antennae (2 to 4 decibels of gain). Studio and production equipment is simple: 2 cassette tape decks, one reel-to-reel, a mixing board, a radio receiver, an in-studio amplification system, two portable tape recorders with rechargeable batteries, lights and fans. Total electricity consumption is 7.5 kilowatts/hour.
The stations cost approximately US$50,000. Each station covers 30 to 50 kilometers. The range of each signal is longer than normal as there are few obstacles such as buildings in Africa. Maintenance is easy: the solar panels must be cleaned every day in sandy regions, and battery levels must be checked on a regular basis.
AMARC=World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters
Articles and files
DELORME, Michel, AMARC=ASSOCIATION MONDIALE DES RADIODIFFUSEURS COMMUNAUTAIRES, AMARC in. INTERADIO, 1993/02 (CANADA), VOL5NO1