GEF SolarChill project

The aims of the GEF SolarChill Project are (a) to conduct wide scale field tests of various models of solar direct drive vaccine coolers; (b) to stimulate the development and field testing of solar direct drive food refrigerator prototypes; and (c) to initiate interest and investment by the local and regional private sector in the manufacturing and marketing of SolarChill type medical and food refrigerators. The project aims at demonstrating the reliable and affordable use of the SolarChill technology for medical, household and commercial purposes. Working in close collaboration with the relevant environmental and health ministries as well as governmental institutes in Kenya, the Kingdom of eSwatini and Colombia, the SolarChill technologies should be disseminated in the three countries and beyond.

The preparatory phase of the GEF SolarChill Project “SolarChill Development, Testing, and Technology Transfer Outreach” was completed in 2012-13. The implementing phase was launched in 2016 and is targeted to be completed in 2018. 

The SolarChill Project involves a long lasting partnership between diverse international organizations, including: Danish Technological Institute (DTI), Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, HEAT GmbH, Greenpeace International, Programs for Appropriate Technologies in Health (PATH), Swiss Resource Centre and Consultancies for Development (SKAT), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Initially the SolarChill Project also benefited greatly from the involvement of industry participants, most notably that of Vestfrost and Danfoss from Denmark, and more recently, The Fridge Factory from Swaziland.

Solarchill project partners


The GEF SolarChill Project intends to:

  • Field test and compare the performance of several brands of solar direct drive vaccine coolers under different climatic and operational conditions
  • Encourage the development of prototypes of the solar direct drive food refrigerators and field test them under different climatic and operational conditions
  • Support the sustained and continuous development of the technology by working with local manufacturers towards scaling-up production, lowering costs through improved R&D, design and sourcing of components, and reaching full commercial production and marketing of solar direct drive refrigerators
  • Encourage the manufacturing of the SolarChill vaccine coolers and food refrigerators by local or regional manufacturers through technology transfer outreach and supported marketing and dissemination of the technology


In 2001 UNEP and Greenpeace conceived the need for an environmentally friendly, solar vaccine refrigerator. At the same time the Danish Technological Institute (DTI) was investigating the development of solar, direct drive refrigeration. The SolarChill Project was launched in 2001. Partner organizations and industrial participants were invited to join the project to provide much needed expertise in vaccine cooling, food refrigeration and the use of solar technologies in developing countries.

Milestones in SolarChill history

  • 2001 - 2002: Project conceptualization and formation; Research and prototype development
  • 2002: First prototype exhibited at World Summit on Sustainable Development
  • 2003 - 2006: Field testing in Senegal, Indonesia, Cuba & India
  • 2006: SolarChill Project industry participant, Vestfrost, receives the first WHO PQS certification and starts manufacturing SolarChill vaccine coolers
    SolarChill is awarded the 2006 UK Cooling Award in the Environmental Pioneer Category
  • President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam receives two SolarChill vaccine coolers for testing purposes at the clinic of the President’s residence in New Delhi
  • 2007 - 2010: SolarChill units are delivered by aid organizations to refugee camps in Africa and for earthquake relief in Haiti
  • 2009: SolarChill Project is approved for GEF Funding for SolarChill Development, Testing and Technology Transfer Outreach in Kenya, the Kingdom of eSwatini and Colombia
  • 2011 - 2014: SolarChill Project Partner, GIZ Proklima, in cooperation with UNDP (with funding under the Montreal Protocol and the Multilateral Fond) complete the conversion of Palfridge factory in Swaziland from HCFCs and HFCs to hydrocarbons. This prepares the way for a SolarChill technology transfer with Palfridge as developing country partner.
  • 2012 - 2013: Preparatory Phase of the GEF SolarChill Project completed
  • 2016 - 2021: Implementation of GEF SolarChill Project in Kenya, the Kingdom of eSwatini and Colombia
  • 09/2021: Official project closure