Published On: Fri, Aug 25th, 2017

Electrifying Sub-Saharan Africa

An important point in Africa’s development is to provide electricity to small villages. But deploying actual networks to reach these parts of the continent is not very effective and too expensive. African cou ntries must find another way to electrify those areas.

photo courtesy of De Aar Solar Power

Enlightening African’s nights

In our “developed countries” electricity is something normal. You just turn on the light when the sun goes down. But if you go down to Sub-Saharan Africa, it is not so easy. Only 10% of the population have access to electricity in those places.

Countries in this part of the continent are currently working on solutions to allow access to electricity for a bigger part of the population. Providing electricity to isolated populations will improve their life. They will have access to more secure solutions like kitchen’s security. Remember that kitchen’s smokes are responsible of many deaths every year in Africa. They will also have easier access to multiple technologies.

Creating mini-grids in Africa

It is too expansive to extend existing electrical networks to reach every small villages. They need another solution and solar power plants seem to be “the” solution. It is possible to size solar power plant to create small electrical networks specifically for one or more villages. It will reduce distribution costs due to proximity.

There are no research and development costs because those technologies are already ready to use in a smaller and larger scale. Providers are ready too. Like Solar Africa Shop they are making an active contribution to this developing market. Different countries already have projects to create solar farms like Senegal where two different quite small power plant opened within a few weeks or South Africa where one of the biggest solar farm has already seen the day of light.

Green solutions and irony

This solution seems to be perfect. It is a green solution, easily and quickly deployed. But in facts there are limitations. Creating low-cost small networks increase the demand for electricians. It will be hard for every network to have all the staff they need and incidents will quickly have big implications.

There are also times where the sun is not shining and so the produced power will decrease significantly. Some companies may have find a solution to keep producing energy even when the solar system is not fully working, which is creating hybrid power plant using also diesel to maintain production. This solution will decrease the green image of solar power and raise the costs. Let us just hope they will find a greener solution than using old and dirty technologies quickly …

Author: Marie Zae

photo/ pixabay user piper 60

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