UK company Solarcentury has commissioned two solar-storage-diesel mini-grids in rural communities in Eritrea that are far away from the grid and have relied purely on diesel power until now.
The hybrid power systems at Areza (1.25MW) and Maidma (1MW) took eight months to build, with a combination of solar PV, lithium-ion batteries from US firm Tesla, and backup diesel generators from Caterpillar.
The sites, providing 24/7 and cheaper power to 40,000 people and businesses, will be operated by the Eritrean Electricity Company, whose staff have been trained by Solarcentury.
The project was funded by the Eritrean Government with support from the European Union Delegation to the State of Eritrea and the United Nations Development Programme.
Solarcentury project manager, Theo Guerre-Canon, said: “The community are at the heart of this project. Our hope is that access to reliable electricity will support wider economic growth in the region, and social development. For example, there’s a clinic in Areza that will now benefit from uninterrupted electricity. The Eritrean project presents a model for rural electrification, and Solarcentury is in discussions about similar projects across Africa.”
Tesfai Ghebrehiwet, director of Renewable Energy, Ministry of Energy and Mines, added: “Solarcentury were very focused, and kept the project progressing at a quick pace in remote conditions. The Ministry of Energy and Mines are very pleased with the process and results.”
When the project was first announced, our sister site at Solar Media, PV Tech, spoke to Daniel Davis, director of hybrid power systems at Solarcentury, about the opportunities and challenges in off-grid renewables in Africa.