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Home Startups New system taps into the Madagascar’s solar power potential

New system taps into the Madagascar’s solar power potential

by Stella Kabura
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Ambondro, a remote Madagascan village will soon be reaping solar power benefits as the Fondation Energies Pour Le Monde (Energy for the world foundation) has rolled out a concentrator photovoltaic system that also combines existing wind turbines in the village, in the drive to enhance rural electrification in the country. The project is said to be in partnership with Sunidarity an initiative that offers support to sustainability projects, claiming it the first decentralized rural electrification operation of its own in the south of Madagascar as one of the countries in Africa known to be able to soak up to 3,000 kilo watts of sunlight power in a day. Founded by semiconductor specialists Soitec of which two years ago launched a “Plug & Sun”, a system which is a modular, mobile easy to install CPV system designed to bring electricity in remote areas with no access to electricity the system works through photovoltaic cells that magnify sunlight before it reaches the cells that convert it into electricity. The new technology uses Fresnel lenses that concentrate sunlight 500 times, notes the company, adding that it claims its electricity efficiency lies at 30 per cent which is about twice as that of standard silicon photovoltaic modules. More so, the new system is said to consist of two trackers with the ability to generate a combined 12 kilo Watt Power per day. Each tracker is made up of 12 CPV modules with a total surfaces of 4.2 square meters and an integrated battery system that allows the electricity produced during the day to be restored for future consumption. According to Soitec, the Plug&Sun’s design ensures that sunlight is harvested daily with continuous energy generation as the system’s simplicity can be adapted in remote areas like southern Madagascar as it is also compatible with diverse electrical standards. To add extra reliability, Fondation Énergies pour le Monde has combined the Plug&Sun trackers with two wind turbines that were installed back in 2010 making it a hybrid wind-solar system. When the CPV technology was installed, a Soitec technician provided assistance in assembling the CPV systems on site and connecting them to the existing power system, while also training local technical personnel in maintenance and servicing of the technology. However, the down side of this project among others that it may lead to deforestation. Researchers say that an estimate 80 percent of the species are new to the island, and the country has suffered severe biodiversity loss during last few years due to human activity deforestation. Nevertheless, the new system is expected to not only improve the lives of people in remote areas by giving them access to electricity but to act as a substitute on reliance of fossil fuels in the next one year before the company receives sufficient feedback on the system’s operation. If it proves a success according to the Director of Fondation Energies Pour Le Monde Yves Maigne, the new system would be installed in eight other Malagasy villages identified. For details about the project, visit Sunidarity/Soitec.

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