Goshen Academy, a primary school located in the rural outskirts of Freetown, Sierra Leone, suffers from a severe lack of electricity. The Freetown electric grid experiences regular blackouts, especially in underserved areas like Rokel where Goshen Academy resides. Without electricity, Goshen’s operational hours are limited from sunrise to sunset, depriving students of a safe, well-lit place to learn, study, and socialize. In the rainy season, the naturally-lit classrooms become so dark that the students cannot see the blackboards, and the teachers simply have them sleep. The lack of electricity at Goshen Academy is a major hindrance to the education of the students and to the development of extracurricular activities and programs. In today’s society, technology education prepares students for the vast majority of careers, whether technology related or not. Currently, the Goshen Academy is unable to utilize their laptop and desktop computers they received as donations, depriving the students and outside community from technology education. Providing the school with access to electricity will allow Goshen to serve as a place for the Rokel community to learn, study, and socialize.


After discussions with the community about their needs and desired solutions, we agreed that the best solution to meet Goshen Academy’s electricity demands would be a PV solar system with battery storage.  The system would take advantage of Sierra Leone’s equatorial sunshine as well as enable the school to use power at night via the batteries. Additionally, this design will be more sustainable than a traditional gas generator, as the community will have no recurring fuel costs. The electrical system will not only power technology in the school, but also empower adults in the local community by providing them with the opportunity to take computer literacy courses. Technology skills are as important in Sierra Leone as they are in any other modern society, as they unlock employment opportunities and prepare students to live in our increasingly digital world. After our project is complete, Goshen Academy will have a sustainable source of electricity that will empower the local community for years to come.

Project Timeline


Fall 2022 to Spring 2023
In March 2023, the SLRE team traveled to Sierra Leone to gain a better understanding of the energy needs of Goshen Academy. The travel team conducted interviews with teachers, students, and administrators from the school to better understand the difficulties they face and discuss their desired solutions. Another purpose of these meetings was to gain an understanding of what devices the school would like to power on the system, so we can properly size the solar panels and batteries. We also gathered measurements of the building, specifically focusing on the roof, to assess its stability and load bearing capabilities. At the end of the trip, our team met with Foday Suma, a contractor from FLS Power, to discuss his experience with similar projects, our design, and implementation ideas. Traveling on the assessment trip allowed us to form strong relationships with the contractor and his team, while also creating meaningful connections with the community.


Fall 2023 to Fall 2024
We are currently in our design and implementation phase. Our team has compiled a load profile to estimate the year-round energy consumption of the school, and are completing the sizing of a PV panel and battery system large enough to support those needs. The school also lacks electrical wiring, so we are creating an electrification plan. This involves using electrical codes to adequately size wiring and position lightbulbs. Our team is continuing to work with our professional mentors to iterate and refine our designs. 

One of the values of EWB projects is helping the community with sustainability in mind. For this project, not only does that mean properly designing the system so that it works as expected, but also training a system manager and educating the community so they are able to support and maintain the electrical system after the project has been closed out. At the end of our design process, we will compile an operation and maintenance manual for the community to reference after the installation of the system. Our main goals with the design of the system are to ensure that it meets the school’s needs and is able to support their community for years to come.


Winter 2024
Over winter break of 2024, our travel team will return to Goshen Academy to implement the system. This will involve installing solar panels on the roof of the primary school, wiring the interior of the buildings, and testing the completed system. With the help of our travel mentor, David Mulcahy, our team will oversee the installation by the contractors to ensure best engineering practices are followed, gaining valuable hands-on project experience.


Spring 2025 to Winter 2025
After we implement our PV panel and battery system, we will maintain contact with the administration at Goshen Academy to ensure that the project consistently meets their electrical needs. The information collected from this communication will inform our plans for the trip back to the school, which is scheduled for approximately one year after implementation. The purpose of the monitoring trip will be to collect data on the system’s performance and make improvements as needed. Apart from the physical system’s performance, we will also ensure that the administration is adhering to the practices we outlined in the operations and maintenance manual.

Pictures from our Assessment Trip