A SCOTTISH company has developed the “Ikea solution” to solar power with a flat-pack thermal collector that is set to provide cheaper access to hot water in Rwanda.

Production of the pioneering SolarisKit solar thermal collector has started in Dundee and is set to undergo field trials in Africa while the firm is also looking at entering other markets in the UK, Europe and the US, and is in talks with Amazon.

It said one use in the UK could be for glamping and holiday parks while the more temperate climate makes it useful for heating public swimming pools.

The firm, which will plant 25 trees for every kit installed, is planning the move after 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, showing a large portion of household income is required to cover heating bills.

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Mr Ghani said he knew there was a solution to harness the abundant solar energy in an affordable, practical way to heat water, inspiring the creation of the S200 flat-packable solar thermal collector.

Claimed to be one of the easiest and cheapest 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 gather data from those involved in the trial.

HeraldScotland: Kris Aitchison, Service and Installation Manager, with a packaged SolarisKit collectorKris Aitchison, Service and Installation Manager, with a packaged SolarisKit collector

The bank’s climate entrepreneur accelerator enabled former Herriot-Watt academic Mr Ghani to establish a commercial plan, to network, and find investors to back the product.

As principal partner of the COP26 conference in Glasgow, RBS 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.

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The bank has 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 Mr 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 five years.

Mr Ghani said: “We’ve taken the approach that if we really want to tackle the climate emergency, we need really affordable widely scalable solutions to help decarbonise heat that is suitable for both developing economies and industrialised regions like the UK and Europe.

“We have developed a low-cost flat-packable solar thermal collector. It is basically the Ikea solution to solar hot water.

“The kit is very cheap to manufacture, it is really easy to transport. You can transport it with a bicycle or on the back of a motorcycle to suit infrastructure in developing economies. The idea is that you can assemble this thing in around 30 minutes without any tooling, simple instructions, and once it’s assembled it will started converting sunlight directly into heat. It can be used for bathing, cleaning, we are looking at hygiene which is a key problem right now when the world is facing a pandemic.”

He said: “In the UK we are looking at a couple of niche markets. The first one is the glamping, camping and holiday parks. Also, in a more temperate climate swimming pool heating is a good application, so we are looking at partnering with councils across the UK.”