By Kefiloe Kajane
African Clean Energy (ACE) One is a family company that produces low cost stoves with clean energy. It is an integral energy solution for off-the-grid households in the developing world.
The stove uses a combination of thermal and electric generation to provide a clean, smokeless cooking experience for its users.
The solar-powered electricity it generates can also be used for phone charging and lighting.
Co-owner and administrator Alice Walker said ACE was founded in Lesotho in 2011 and it has now branched out to Uganda, Cambodia and Netherlands.
She said ACE One is a solar-biomass hybrid energy system which provides for the electrical and thermal energy needs of its users while emitting negligible levels of smoke, protecting their health.
“The electricity access provided by the ACE One allows users to charge their phone or plug in the LED light attachment which saves them money on electrical energy expenses, making the ACE One affordable.
“The efficient burn of the ACE One plus its ability to burn any dry solid biomass fuel (animal waste, crop residue, small sticks) reduces the need for unsustainably harvested wood fuel and protects our environment.”
Walker explained that ACE One is now being sold as part of the ACE Connect Package which includes a second-use Samsung smartphone with a pre-installed ACE Connect app.
“In 2019, we updated the ACE One to include ‘smart’ capabilities, allowing customers to connect it to their smartphone. The new ACE One can be switched off remotely, granting customers more flexibility in their loan repayments and reducing the loan risk.
“The ACE Connect app also enables customers to keep track of their loan repayments, as well as granting them a direct channel of communication with our customer services. A skilled team of maintenance services on the ground is ready to support our customers through any product malfunctions,” she said.
She explained that ACE One sales teams travel to communities to demonstrate using the ACE One. They have the facility to set up contracts and loans on the spot.
She further revealed plans to expand their physical infrastructure of mobile retail shops throughout their markets to provide continuous access to clean energy products and services. The project is being co-funded by the European Union.
The burning chamber of the ACE One is designed to reduce smoke emissions to a negligible level by creating clean biomass combustion.
Here’s how it works: a ventilator blows oxygen into the top and bottom of the burning chamber. The oxygen causes the temperature of the fire within the chamber to increase to approximately 1000°C, at which point biomass will gasify.
Hot gas floats to the top of the burning chamber where it meets more oxygen and combusts completely.
Walker said as their way of giving back, on their website they have an option where people around the world could buy the stove and donate such stove to a family that needs it here in Lesotho.