Solar Hackathon: Building a Solar Water Heater at icecairo

What is a Hackathon?

Hackathons are when specialists and interested peoples congregate around a specific topic with the intent to break it down and collaborate. A presentation or discussion begins and then participants begin suggesting ideas and work groups depending on the tasks at hand. A Hackathon, like a marathon, can be days long with members busting out all their skills to achieve the stated goals.

icecairo Solar Hackathon

 icecairo initiated a solar hackathon at the hub that brought together community members from the private sector, students, civil society, and the passionate Egyptian who seeks to learn.

 The icecairo team explained the purpose behind launching this initiative. icecairo’s vision seeks to increase employment in the Green sector, in this instance, renewable energy. We seek to do this with Egyptian youth or neglected remote areas of Egypt where the need for this technology increases daily.

 The first event was aligned with the hackathon description above and the team outlined three products that are the goals of this hackathon: solar water heater, solar water still, and LED light solar setup. The workflow decided by the team prioritized the products and planned for a linear path, with the solar water heater chosen as the first product to be designed and constructed.

 The second event brought together experienced individuals from organizations like Solar Cities and Oasis Renewable Energy and debated the best choice for materials and technical design. A trade-off between cost and quality concluded in the use of PVC piping instead of the high cost of copper despite the significant difference in the efficiency as a result of the thermal conductivity properties of each material.

 The subsequent five sessions were the practical construction of the unit.


 By organizing with our partners GIZ and Oasis Renewable Energy, a training on the exact process of constructing a solar water heater began. Mr. Adel Hanna, 30 years experience in Solar Power with Academy of Scientific & Research Technology (ASRT), trained the 75+ participants that took part over the various different sessions. All sessions were open and free to icecairo community members that were held over the course of a month. The final stage of installation and testing will take in the very near future.

 Marsa Alam

 One remote area of Egypt that could make use of this transfer of skills and knowledge is Marsa Alam. In this region, haphazard urban development for the tourism sector threatens the ecological haven that it is, one of the last remaining coastal areas in the country. The local population, Ababda and Basharaya tribes, have lived nomadic bedouin lifestyles for centuries. With the growing tourism sector, the government has began forceful land grabbing where it sells to major development firms, forcing the locals to work in the resorts as a last option of livelihood. Their only other option was fishing which has seen significant declines in fisheries over the past few years.

 icecairo intends to empower this marginalized community by transferring the technical and business skills surrounding around this product. Even though hotels expect a certified product with a quality standard they can rely on, there will be an opportunity for the would-be entrepreneurs to begin developing the required skills. This prototyping of products and business models will be facilitated by icecairo and its strategic partners like GIZ.

As a contribution to the 3al Ganoob Festival, icecairo vision of sustaining communities through green products fulfills our triple bottom line goals. The event will take place at the same location and the communities of conscious will convene to discuss many other topics in a conference like environment.


 A crucial aspect to icecairo vision is that every product and project worked on shall be documented and provided virtually for everyone to see and use. The open source philosophy we promote stems from a sense of community, where we build synergy and advance socially and technologically.

 For this project, a team dedicated to this task has documented step by step the process along with photo-documentation.

 In addition, there is data on material costs and location from which one can purchase.

 This material will be made public online through our many social media platforms once it is comprehensive and complete.

 Photo albums:

 Session III (1st practical session):

 Session IV:

 Session V:

 Session VI:

 Session VII: