A DUNDEE company is set to provide cheaper access to hot water in Rwanda after beginning production of a pioneering thermal collector flat pack kit, following graduation from Royal Bank of Scotland’s Climate Entrepreneur Accelerator Programme.
Mechanical engineer Dr Faisal Ghani established SolarisKit in 2019 after reading a journal paper about energy usage in Rwanda, where a large portion of household income is required to cover heating bills. As an equatorial country, Dr Ghani knew there was a solution to harness its abundant solar energy in an affordable, practical way to heat water – inspiring the creation of the S200 flat-packable solar thermal collector.
One of the easiest and cheapest solar thermal collectors to install in the world, 80 units of the S200 have been shipped to Rwanda, with product trials set to begin in June, involving seven households and two hotels. Two local businesses have been enlisted to provide on-the-ground support, as well as to gather data from those involved in the trial.
The news comes following completion of the Royal Bank of Scotland Climate Entrepreneur Accelerator, which enabled former Herriot-Watt academic Dr Ghani to establish a commercial plan, to network, and find investors to back the product. A talk on how to achieve B Corp status was also provided, prompting SolarisKit’s application for the prestigious certification.
As principal partner of the COP26 conference in Glasgow, Royal Bank of Scotland recently relaunched the Accelerator with a climate focus after its ‘springboard to recovery’ report found that supporting scale-ups and a shift towards sustainability could have the potential to help unlock £140 billion in economic growth. The digital, three-month programme underlines the bank’s commitment to its own climate change goals, which includes reducing the climate impact of its financing activity by half by the end of the decade.
Royal Bank of Scotland also established a corporate partnership with SolarisKit, becoming its first UK customer, with plans in place to install the thermal collector at its Gogarburn HQ in Edinburgh.
The six-strong team behind SolarisKit are also exploring the possibility of supporting rural communities in India, and Dr Ghani hopes to grow the company in the coming months, with a view to hiring several new roles. Currently, they have the capacity to produce 20,000 kits per year, with ambitions to reduce global carbon emissions by one billion kilogrammes in just five years.
Dr Faisal Ghani, founder and CEO of SolarisKit, said: “As a new father, I became more aware of our need to tackle the climate emergency and felt I could do more as an entrepreneur than academic. After realising that carbon emissions from the developing and emerging economies exceeded those produced by the industrialised nations, I was motivated to make a change.
“When you’re an entrepreneur, you feel siloed in your work, so support from the Royal Bank of Scotland has been great. From becoming our first customer in the UK, to providing networking opportunities and group coaching sessions through the Programme, the whole experience has been brilliant.”
Stuart Dearden, Regional Eco-System Manager at Royal Bank of Scotland, said “It’s been remarkable to watch the growth of SolarisKit through our Climate Accelerator. Dr Ghani’s drive and ambition is clear, and we look forward to seeing the results of his trial in Rwanda. Installation of our very own S200 at our head office is an important step in helping us to achieve our climate ambitions.”