How is SketchUp a part of helping solve climate poverty on our planet?

Solarfire oven

– Hi there! My name is Lorin, a Canadian, from Ottawa, Ontario. I am a Director of the Board – Chief Builder, Project Manager, and head of Prototyping and Field Work at Solar Fire. I run trainings, do the training of trainers and manage field operations in Africa.

I’ve been passionate about solar thermal ever since I was exposed to it as a child by my grandfather, and over time have grown more and more convinced of the potential of this technology to solve the crux of the energy-climate-poverty nexus (lack of widespread access to sustainable, appropriate and renewable energy).

How long have you been working with SketchUp, and why did you choose SketchUp – instead of another software?

– I started using SketchUp about ten years ago. I was looking for something easy to get started with that didn’t cost a fortune but powerful enough to solve complex issues without missing out on the premium features other companies offer.

At the moment, I am stationed in Burkina Faso, and a reliable internet connection isn’t always something you can take for granted here. With Sketchup Pro being offline, I can keep working even if the internet is down.

Please tell us more about Solar Fire and your mission

– We are maximizing the impact of solar thermal technology by breaking solar thermal’s cost and complexity barriers.

As an Impact Engineering firm, we are dedicated to developing whatever is necessary to have a significant impact on climate change and poverty, globally. To this end, we have developed our Lytefire solar oven, roasters, and Saunas, our GoSol education program to create entrepreneurs and strong partnerships to scale.

The vast majority of energy used in the world is in the form of heat. Decarbonizing heat represents an extremely important development pathway in the fight against climate change.

Most engineering firms are focused on high-tech solutions for developed markets, but there are billions of people living in very sunny countries, and we are one of the few companies that are developing solutions specifically for them.

Give us two examples of how SketchUp helped you solve your problems

– For example, there is a mechanism on our machines that positions the mirrors to follow the sun to maximize the amount of energy that people can use.

With the help of SketchUp, we can dimension the mechanism and ensure parts have the clearance they need. This means that we save a lot of time and money because we don’t have to build a physical prototype to see how the sun moves in relation to our machine.

Since SketchUp is so easy to use and understand, it makes it a lot easier when you need someone remote, for example, an engineer hundreds of miles away to check and confirm that their measurements are correct.

Lastly, what’s the best thing about SketchUp?

– The best thing about SketchUp is that it is fast and intuitive. It is easy for someone with none or minimal experience to understand the program. I generally get my job done faster than the others who use other software. 

Another thing I like about SketchUp is that you can change things in seconds. As I’m saying, it just happens, bing bang boom!

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