Best practises of the Alliance for Rural Electrification

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Alliance for Rural Electrif cation

Best practises of the Alliance for Rural ElectriďŹ cation what renewable energy can achieve in developing countries

2011 edition

2011 Edition

INTRODUCTION The challenge In 2010, 130 years after Thomas Edison patented a system for electricity distribution, more than 1.4 billion people do not have access to modern energy services.1 In Sub-Saharan Africa, only 31% of the population has access to electricity, with only 2-5% in many rural areas. Electrical infrastructure remains largely centralised; yet grid extensions to remote regions is far too expensive as populations are dispersed and cannot afford to finance the connection fees upfront. Although most developing countries have initiated and/or accelerated rural electrification programmes, progress has often been hampered while not living up to political promises. Without substantial political drive to enhance the living standards of rural areas, progress will remain stifled. In fact, despite the needs, political support is limited. The financial and technical capacity needed to implement large-scale operations is also sincerely lacking as utilities have limited motivation to extend services to unprofitable customers. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that developing and transition countries together have investment requirements in their energy sectors of US$9.6 trillion in the period 2001 to 2030. On current growth and development assistance trajectories, this figure is insurmountable. Hence, it is vital that the limited financial resources that are available are used in the most effective way and propagate private investment.

Renewable Energies The Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE) represents companies and organisations who share the view that rural communities in developing countries and have an alternative to traditional electrification and conventional energies. We believe that renewable energy technologies, utilised in off-grid and mini-grid power systems, can sustainably meet the energy needs of rural communities at an affordable price. For decades, accessing electricity in developing countries has been fostered through the use of fossil fuels (gensets) and by means of extending the electricity grid. Due to low potential electricity demand and economic development in these areas, grid extension is often not a cost competitive option. A study of the World Bank on rural electrification programs placed the average cost of grid extension per km at between $8,000 and $10,000, rising to around $22,000 in difficult terrains. Many projects have demonstrated that decentralised renewables are a more reliable electricity resource than grid connectivity due to the overstretched and unreliable capacity of central systems. The volatility of oil prices and both local and global environmental constraints, together with rising world fossil fuel demand calls into serious question the sustainability of gensets and increases the need to find alternative, efficient energy solutions. Furthermore, the elevated operation and maintenance costs, the geographical difficulties of fuel delivery, and the environmental and noise pollution present further disadvantages to the exclusive use of diesel-based systems. In contrast, the low operation and maintenance costs of renewable energy power systems offset the initial capital costs, which makes them more efficient and cost competitive solutions. Renewable solutions offer energy independence and security as well as the inherent environmental benefits of using clean and sustainable solutions. 1


All figures are from the International Energy Agency’s 2010 World Outlook Report

Another central issue is the role of the private sector. ARE believes that private companies can become a key driver in the field of rural electrification. Many companies have now demonstrated their capabilities by implementing successful rural renewable energy projects throughout the world. However, a crucial precondition is an enabling legal and financial framework. The renewable energy industry grows increasingly interested in opportunities within developing countries. ARE is the visible expression of this trend, serving as an international platform for sharing the knowledge and experience of the private sector. It develops technological and financial solutions which are made available for policy makers and other actors in the field of rural electrification. Development policy is increasingly discovering the benefits of renewable technologies and acknowledging that the private sector has an important role to play. Now this has to be translated into concrete policies, which boost private sector driven off-grid renewable rural electrification.

Our Best Practises This publication highlights case studies from our members that demonstrate their activities in the field and exhibit replicable solutions. These examples cover a wide range of technologies, geographical locations, financial support mechanisms, and consumer tariff schemes. These projects show the diversity and the potential of renewable energy solutions in developing countries. Reliable, cost effective and sustainable energy solutions exist and are being implemented every day worldwide. Access to energy is a prerequisite for development, not a result. Renewables can provide enough sustainable, reliable, clean electricity to support the creation of local business in large population areas, whilst also being able to reach the most dispersed rural communities. Renewables can also provide unlimited solutions for accessing the water needed for irrigation and sanitation, in places that have consistently been deprived of this right, and at the same time, offer new opportunities for public health and education. Today, when the right conditions are put in place, the technology to provide energy for everyone exists. When renewable energy technologies are politically supported they can reach people faster and achieve more than any other technology or master plan, in addition to preserving the current state of our ecosystem. This brochure not only highlights successful projects, but demonstrates what can be achieved.

Origin countries of ARE members Countries where the case studies have been realised




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Bergey Wind Power: Delivering small wind turbines to 20 households in Tibet, China

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Eauxwell Nigeria Limited: Solar water pumping supplies potable water to 653 communities across Nigeria

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Fondazione Madre Agnese Manzoni: Lights in every household in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

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FortisWind Energy: Small wind turbines powers telecommunications in Madagascar

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Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy ISE: PV system technology in Ecuador and Peru

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Innovation, Energy, Development (IED): GEOSIM: A GIS based tool for rural electrification maximizes impact on socio-economic development in 12 Asian and African countries

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KXN: 551 PV refrigerators for healthcare in Nigeria

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Outback Power: Delivering solar energy to Apolima community in Samoa

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Phaesun GmbH: Rural Electrification in Mozambique

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Q-Cells: Solar energy schools in Rema, Ethiopia

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Renac: Project TREE (Transfer Renewable Energy & Efficiency) - Capacity buildings for renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies in developing countries

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Rural Energy Foundation (REF): Electricity for 500,000 through Solar. Now! Network

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SMA Solar Technology: Largest RE hybrid system on Vaitupu, Tuvalu

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Solarmate: Solar Power for an African Mission Station in Nigeria

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SolarWorld: 7000 homes receive clean PV-based renewable energy in China

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Sunlabob: Solar Lanterns for 1200 homes in Lao PDR

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Trama TecnoAmbiantal: PV hybrid energy powers a village of 19 homes in Ecuador

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The Wind Factory: Installation of a Wind-diesel Hybrid system in Ilakaka, Madagascar


Bergey Wind Power

Haijiang Wang +8613908988220

Delivering small wind turbines to 20 households in Tibet, China Company Description Bergey Windpower Company (BWC), which is the world leading supplier of small wind turbines up to 50 kW, was established in Norman, Oklahoma, USA in 1977. As a subsidiary of BWC, Beijing Bergey Windpower Co., (BBWC) has become the production and R&D base of BWC in China.

Wind power supply for a village in Naqu,Tibet.

BWC/BBWC provides complete design, supply, and installation services for hybrid power system utilizing wind turbines, diesel generators and photo-

voltaic arrays. Bergey wind turbines have now been installed in all 50 U.S. states and more than 100 countries.

The Challenge Naqu is a high-altitude county located in the north of Tibet plateau, 4,200 meters above the sea level. Households there are scattered and facing limited access to electricity due to unfeasible grid extension and low energy demands.

Opportunities for Renewables

Project financing

This region of Tibet has excellent renewable energy (RE) resources. The annual average wind speed there is 5.1m/s at 10m above the surface of the earth and the annual solar radiation quantity is over 6600 MJ/m2. Local government takes RE as a solution for electrification.

This project was co-financed by Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology and Department of Science and Technology in Tibet. Tibet Solar Energy Research Institute is the local partner. The total investment is about RMB 2.3 million. As an assistance project, there is no need for villagers to pay their bill for the electrical service.

Renewable Solution After assessment, a wind/solar hybrid power station of 15 kW wind system (10kW out of BBWC XL.10) and 5kW solar was developed. This hybrid system could produce ~80 kWh of electricity per day. It is a pilot project and more and more RE power station will be established in the foreseeable future.

Project Outcome Feedback from villagers and the local government demonstrated their complete satisfaction with the project. Through clean and reliably electricity, the living conditions of households have been improved. Electrification enables about 80 people to get lighting, telecom and entertainment services. To ensure the sustainability of this project, some users have been trained to maintain these equipments.



Eauxwell Nigeria Limited

Enwegbara Edwin C. Tel. +23418180190

Solar water pumping supplies potable water to 653 communities across Nigeria Company Description Eauxwell Nigeria Limited, established in 1987, is the leading water and waste-water engineering firm in Nigeria. In striving to improve access to potable water in rural communities, Eauxwell has invested year after year in off-grid renewable energy solutions. Our wealth of experience utilizing renewable energy means we are now engaged in several rural electrification projects in conjunction with numerous local and international partners.

Installation prior to commissioning.

The Challenge Lack of access to clean water is a predominant problem in many parts of rural Nigeria, compounded by the fact that grid electricity is lacking in many of such areas. The Government has previously installed water-pumping systems based on generators, but these have failed due to extremely high maintenance costs and unreliable components (generating sets).

Opportunities for Renewables The rural locations generally do not have access to the grid network. Large open areas in rural Nigeria with high irradiation present an opportunity for PV and wind power.

Renewable Solution Eauxwell drilled new boreholes and retro-fitted to install all the required components. Within each borehole, the Grundfos SQFlex submersible pumps (DC-AC pumps) is installed. Grundfos SQFlex submersible water pumps 1. 16 No’s Sharp 95Wp PV modules – Northern locations 2. 12 No’s SolarWorld 80Wp PV modules – Southern locations 3. Aqualite or Ferrolite Water Treatment Plants dependent on water quality in region 4. Elevated water storage tanks 5. Water management and supply station In order to ensure that each installation is utilised


properly, a local technician is hired and trained by Eauxwell Nigeria Ltd to operate and carry out minimal maintenance. Periodical maintenance and monitoring will be carried out.

Project financing Projects are funded by the Conditional Grant Scheme in Nigeria, a counterpart fund between Nigerian Federal and State Governments setup to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Projects are conducted in partnership with the United Nations.

Project Outcome Up to 500 people visit each site daily with repeated visits. Some of the greatest successes are increased educational opportunities as more children have time go to school because potable water exists within range of their homes; they do not have to walk long distances to obtain water daily. There is also a huge decline in diseases such as cholera and dysentery in those communities. People have a better quality of life and thus better their societies.


Fondazione Madre Agnese Manzoni

Prof. Ing. Giovanni Chersola 00393285603003

Lights for every household in Congo, DRC Company Description The “Fondazione Madre Agnese Manzoni“ is a non-profit, recognized by the ItalYoung mothers receiving lanterns for their homes. ian Government that develops solidarity projects. They conceive, realize, and take part in environment, technical projects in the field of endevelopment projects in the fields of: social and ergy and renewable energies, water collection and sanitary welfare, instruction and professional train- distribution, sewage techniques, food, and water ing, protection and valorisation of nature and the safety etc.

The Challenge In the largest part of the territory, it is almost impossible to access lighting for households. The sun sets from 18.00 pm and rises around 5.30 am, thus most of the population is spending nearly half its day in the deepest darkness; the resulting consequences are negative impacts on their quality of life, family life, security, professional activities, education etc.

Opportunities for Renewables In rural areas, access to diesel is very scarce, thus photovoltaics represent a real opportunity to develop and deliver a manageable source of electricity.

Renewable Solution A central shop managed by a trained worker was installed in each village in the Kimbondo area. Every shop is equipped with solar panels (with a power capacity between 200 and 500 Wp), power electronics, an inverter, a battery (with a capacity between 50 and 250 Ah), and a battery charger with a current output of DC 12 V, AC 230. The shop serves various purposes: it can power a small refrigerator for vaccines, an emergency telecommunication system and at the same time, recharge the lanterns that have been supplied at households. The lanterns are equipped with LEDs, which offer long life, are resistant to shocks, have a lower energy consumption, and good light output per watt.

Project financing The first two phases of the project focus on the train-

ing of the local technicians (to install and maintain a PV systems as well as in sales), the installation of the different systems, and the distributions of the lamps, which are fully supported by the Foundation. The third phase and the continuation of the project in the long run (maintenance and sales components) are financed by the users, who will pay to the technicians each battery recharge and the replacement or the repair of any component. Moreover, each charging station is designed as a shop dedicated to the sale of PV components and accessories with the aim of expanding to other villages without electricity.

Project Outcome 8 small rural communities/villages can benefit from this project, which will total around 1008 households or almost 8,000 people. The training courses designed for the technicians are on-going and will continue. In the first year, it is expected that the number of people that will benefit from this project directly or indirectly will be as high as 26,000 people. This number could increase dramatically thanks to the process launched.



Fortis Wind Energy

Mr. Johan Kuikman +31(0) 152 190 521

Small wind turbines powers telecommunications in Madagascar Company Description Fortis Wind Energy is a manufacturer of small wind turbines in the Netherlands. The products range from 1-10 kW and are maintenance free, which makes them ideal for off grid locations.

The Challenge Madagascar’s electricity supply is mainly based on diesel generators. Since they are remotely located, the operational costs are high. Also, the local population does not have the capacity to invest in renewables. An alternative route is needed.

Opportunities for Renewables Small wind has high performance in a windy country such as Madagascar. This means that in hybrid combination with a diesel genset and a small battery bank, up to 95% of the diesel costs are saved.

Renewable Solution The project’s purpose is to supply our turbines to the national telecom industry to power GSM antennas. The hybrid systems we install are based on a Fortis Alize wind turbine (10kW), a battery bank and the existing diesel generator. In some locations, solar PV is added. The greatest challenge is making these projects sustainable. This means that in addition to technical solutions, training the beneficiaries is needed, along with a local service network and continued maintenance.

Project financing The commercial telecom provider and the Dutch government financed the infrastructure, capacity building, and sales for the turbines.


Fortis Alize in Madagascar.

Project Outcome It is now relatively cheap to install turbines and to sell the electricity to rural communities with the financing received. Even at some locations where there is a surplus of electricity at a GSM pole, the excess can be sold by battery charging for the community at lower prices. The lesson which can be drawn from this project is not to work from the beginning with the bottom of the pyramid, but somewhere in the middle where normal commercial operation is possible. Then it is possible to work with the base from there.


Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy ISE

Brisa Ortiz +49 (0) 761/4588-5283

PV system technology in Ecuador and Peru Company Description The group “Off-Grid Power Supply” at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has experience on design and evaluation of numerous Hybrid PV systems worldwide, principally Stand-alone PV system in Ecuador. on cost-effective and reliable solutions (small PV appliances, Hybrid PV systems) to sup- The “Off-Grid Power Supply” team takes into acply remote houses, villages, water desalination sys- count other legal, social and economic aspects of tems, etc. rural electrification such as financing instruments and local operation models. The strength lies in the Furthermore, the group develops system compo- combination of knowledge gained during more than nents like inverters or charge controllers, energy twenty five years of applied research and developmanagement systems that have been developed ment, and practical experience obtained on site and transferred to industry and field applications. worldwide.

The Challenge The financing of “off-grid” renewable energy technologies (RET) remains a challenge. Financing instruments such as the “Feed-in Tarriff (FiT)” regulation in Ecuador would provide a “long-term” solution for RET projects, yet the institutional framework along with technical issues on measurement and monitoring makes the benefit of FiT impractical. Technical solutions would certainly support this regulation and scale-up not only RETs, but also their benefits in local rural communities.

Opportunities for Renewables

Project financing

Today’s practices in RETs for off-grid systems in Latin America are quite well known. In order to scaleup the successful experiences, it is necessary to bring forward energy policies, legislation and market conditions. At the local level, supporting the new stakeholders and especially the “village” system operators, which are the turn key to provide long-term solutions of energy services is essential.

The project DOSBE “Development of Electricity Service Operators in Ecuador and Peru” was co-financed under the COOPENER action of the Intelligent Energy Europe Programme.

Renewable Solution Stand-alone PV systems, such as Solar Home Systems (SHSs) and PV-lighting, hybrid PV systems, PV backup systems (grid-connected).

Project Outcome Within the project, 3 main guidelines have been developed: 1. Service models 2. Technical specifications for photovoltaic, wind and hydropower systems 3. Basic methodology for economic evaluation:




Innovation, Energie, Développement (IED)

Anjali Shanker Tel. +33 472591320

GEOSIM: A GIS based tool for rural electrification maximizes impact on socio-economic development in already 12 Asian and African countries Company Description Incorporated in 1988; IED is an independent French consulting and engineering firm, active in the power sector in more than 30 countries across Asia, Africa and Europe.

The Challenge

As renewable energy (RE) implementation phase occurs a few years after the study phase, the collected data and results become consequently obsolete; updating the results of the “paper study” is difficult with national planning resources. The challenge lies in developing national capacity and providing the planning authorities with a tool that is easy to update and provides the flexibility to run a number of scenarios.

Opportunities for Renewables Integrating renewable energy (RE) is a key factor for optimizing investments and maximizing the socio-economic impact of rural electrification projects, but remains very demanding regarding optimization. The identification of viable projects for private investors is a main issue to foster the development of renewables for rural electrification.

Renewable Solution The GEOSIM tool, using proven technologies, deals with various RE energy supply options, mini-hydro and biomass technologies (biogas, gasification, co-generation) as well as with grid extension and



solar options – both stand alone SHS and PV diesel hybrid mini-grids. Options are studied either in isolated mode or grid integrated mode depending on grid proximity and national regulation laws. Indicators for each “project” are calculated, such as kWh cost, investment costs, yearly maintenance and investment expansion requirements.

Project financing GEOSIM was developed by IED and used in various projects in already 12 countries. To mention a few, 2 projects are currently on-going: 1. Madagascar: Development of regional electrification plans (ADER Rural Electrification Development Agency), 2. Cambodia: Development of Sustainable Rural Electrification Plans for Cambodia (SREP) combining grid extension scenarios with local renewable energy production, leading on a few renewable energy feasibility studies (Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy of Cambodia).

Project Outcome The GEOSIM tool is transferred to national institutions in charge of rural electrification by delivering a user-friendly tool (that requires little specific and technical knowledge) and includes a strong capacity building phase through training sessions. A list of viable projects were identified for RE potential in Cambodia and in 4 regions in Madagascar.



Anthony O. Ighodaro Tel. +23418180190

551 PV refrigerators for healthcare in Nigeria Company Description KXN was established in 1999. It is a photovoltaic systems integrator engaged in supply, training, installation, maintenance and performance monitoring. En-route, by camel, between Dakingari and Giro in Suru Local Government Area (LGA), Kebbi State, Nigeria, with 2 photovoltaic vaccine refrigerator systems.

The Challenge Kebbi State has a population of 3,630,931 (2005 census), with 617,598 under 5 yrs and infant mortality 120/1000 live births. Due to the lack of electricity, providing immunizations for infants against infectious and tropical diseases is difficult. KXN recognized that PV can power these refrigerators in order to save lives.

Opportunities for Renewables High radiation, seasonal roads, unreliable fuel supplies and hard-to-reach areas make PV a suitable technology for the area. There is a critical need for highly reliable electricity in order to ensure the integrity of the cold chain right up to the point of use. Also, PV-powered water pumping, cyber-cafes, street lighting etc. Installing and commissioning PV vaccine fridges at mostly remote off-grid sites are necessary to support routine immunization. However, maintaining system performance – technological and human factors are important.

Renewable Solution Sun Frost RFVB-134a vaccine refrigerators each powered by one Kyocera KC125GT-1, 125Wp, polycrystalline or 2 Unisolar US-64, 64Wp, thin-film modules,

two Trojan T-105, 6V, 225Ah (C20) flooded batteries, with Phocos CML10-2 controllers.

Project financing The project was financed through a government subcontract.

Project Outcome Since the project’s completion: The number of infants served per refrigerator is now 1,200. The refrigerators supply remote areas with quality antigens, preserves the integrity of the antigens, reduces walking distance to healthcare facilities, and addresses the millennium development goals (MDGs) 4 and 5. Further work will include user and technician training, long term systems maintenance and performance monitoring.



Outback Power

Andrew Wilson +1360.435.6030

Delivering solar energy to Apolima community in Samoa Company Description OutBack Power Systems is a leading designer and manufacturer of power electronics for renewable energy applications including solar, wind, and micro-hydro as well as backup power Solar PV system overlooking Apolima village. and mobile power applications. OutBack has established itself as the product of choice maritime environments with high humidity and salt in harsh environmental conditions, such as tropical laden air.

The Challenge Hot and humid conditions combined with salt air have been the death of numerous stand-alone solar power systems on islands in the South Pacific and the Caribbean. Apolima is especially susceptible to conditions that are very harsh on equipment. Therefore, reliability, durability, and the ability to service remotely were major considerations when designing the system.

Opportunities for Renewables In the 1980s, the Samoa Electric Power Corporation (EPC) brought power to the island with a small diesel generator. Yet the electricity supply faced a number of problems, such as lack of 24-hour availability. Additionally, operation was inefficient, requiring a high level of technical services and often resulting in loss of power. EPC also struggled to provide an operator to maintain the generator and the transport of diesel fuel was expensive. In 2005, EPC considered solar as its primary source of power. Therefore, EPC could have a nearly automated power system that did not require difficult fuel delivery and could offer energy 24/7.

Renewable Solution The design includes protection against the environmental problems and built-in redundancy to avoid total system failure should there be a component fault. The mini-grid system uses the distribution network that was installed for the diesel generator. The PV design con-


sists of 84 x 160W Module configured with a total of 13.76 kWp. The modules charge a battery bank and 4 Outback controllers provide for their optimal. 5 sealed OutBack inverters provide 11.5 kW of 240VAC output from the 48VDC input. The system design includes approximately 50% over capacity relative to the current load to allow for load growth.

Project financing UNDP, the Samoa Multi Country Office (MCO) and UNESCO provided technical assistance and funding for the feasibility study, system design and specifications, installation supervision, and training. The hardware and civil works for the PV system was financed by the Government of Samoa as part of EPC’s community service obligations.

Project Outcome The project has been operational since November 2006, providing reliable power to the community via the pre-existing mini-grid for almost three years with no power interruptions or fluctuations.


Phaesun GmbH

Mr. Tobias Zwirner +49 (0) 8331 990 420

Rural Electrification in Mozambique Company Description The Phaesun GmbH from Memmigen, Germany was founded in 2001 and concentrates on the sales, the service and the installation of off-grid solar power and wind energy systems. As one of the leadSundaya Ulitium Pico Lamp installation. ing system integrators for stand alone solutions, Phaesun offers all the important brands of lation, Phaesun is focusing on the project managethe off-grid solar and wind energy market. The com- ment, the technical support and the on-site training pany has branch offices in Eritrea, France, U.A.E. of its customers. Phaesun has a lot of experience and Panama and has an extensive worldwide partner in rural electrification, solar pumping systems, PV and distribution network. Besides sales and instal- telecommunication systems and others.

The Challenge Mozambique lacks basic electrical services. Kerosene is the most common use of lighting, and as a result, health problems are rampant. In order to install PV, a local network of PV entrepreneurs has to be developed, along with capacity building. This requires knowledge transfer at trainings and in local universities.

Opportunities for Renewables

Project Outcome

Very low electrification rate in rural areas and abundant solar energy, with an average radiation of 5.5 KWh/m2 day.

• Provision of bright, clean, safe and reliable electric lighting, facilitating evening activities such as school studies, village meetings and shop opening.

Renewable Solution Sundaya Ulitium Pico PV systems consist of highly efficient LED lamps with integrated lithium battery and electronics and solar modules. The local Solar Shops and Solar Kiosks sell the lamps, and provide capacity building by training electricians for maintenance and providing lectures for students.

Project financing 50% of the investment costs are covered by Phaesun GmbH and Sonnenplus GmbH. The other 50% by the Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG).

• Provision of clean energy to power radio/cassettes by day or night thereby improving the quality of life and general information level. • Healthier living environment through reduction in kerosene usage and dry cell battery. • Creation of working places for the population in the rural areas of Mozambique. • The overall investment lead to a profitable return.




Ina von Spies +49 (3494) 6699 – 10121

Solar energy schools in Rema, Ethiopia Company Description Q-Cells SE is a leading manufacturer of solar cells located in Germany. It was founded in 1999 and has grown into one of the largest solar cell manufacturers in the world. Last year Q-Cells entered a new phase, extending its expertise in manufacturing solar cells towards the assembly of powerful crystalline modules, development of various thin-film technologies, and even offering complete solar systems. In short, the company is developing photovoltaics as a sustainable, green technology for a better future.

The Challenge Less than 1% of the rural population in Ethiopia has access to electricity. Key issues for the progress of the rural electrification are training of technicians and the assistance of local installers. This is vital to ensure that the systems are properly maintained and consumers are educated how to use the electricity effectively.

Opportunities for Renewables The large amount of solar irradiation in Ethiopia makes this country very attractive for the introduction of renewable energies based on the natural resource of the sun. Thus, local photovoltaic systems are an ideal extension of the electricity infrastructure in this country, where long distance grids have not reached rural areas.

Renewable Solution The International Solar Energy School in Rema, founded by the “Stiftung Solarenergie – Solar Energy Foundation”, has been training local technicians in the field of photovoltaic systems in rural areas since 2007. The course has 3 modules: Solar technique, management and practice. Q-Cells supports this project with manpower and equipment. Company engineers regularly travel to Rema with solar


Students during outdoor measurements at Solar Energy School in Rema.

cells, measuring equipment, cables, soldering irons and plenty of visual aids to successfully explain the fundamentals of photovoltaic electricity generation in theoretical and practical classes.

Project financing The project is financed by the organization “Stiftung Solarenergie – Solar Energy Foundation”, which is funded by various private and public persons, companies and foundations.

Project Outcome Since the beginning of the project, 62 rural solar energy technicians have been educated at the school in Rema. After finishing their training, they work in Solar-Centres throughout the country, where they install and service small roof-top systems and also provide financial assistance. The installed solar home systems offer a simple form of development: they allow people to read, sew, cook, draw and listen to the radio once the sun has gone down.



Mrs. Tina Vรถlker +49 30 52 689 58 77

Project TREE (Transfer Renewable Energy & Efficiency) Capacity buildings for renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies in developing countries

Company Description

TREE Seminar 2010.

The Renewables Academy AG (RENAC) based in Berlin, Germany is one of the leading international providers of education and training in the fields of renewable energy and energy efficiency. RENAC has its own training centers in Berlin and Mexico for hands-on train-

ing in photovoltaics, solar thermal energy, energy efficiency, and wind energy. For seminars abroad, RENAC has a mobile Training Center, with which training for photovoltaic, solar thermal, and wind energy technologies can be undertaken on locations worldwide.

The Challenge One of the important prerequisites for sustainable implementation of renewables as well as regional value creation is the availability of skilled local personal at all stages of the project cycle. Many developing countries lack the necessary financial means and know-how to train specialized staff.

Opportunities for Renewables TREE supports capacity building and offers strategy planning seminars for people working in ministries, industry associations, law firms, and NGOs in the 115 target countries. TREE also offers seminars on Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) and Financing Renewable Energy Projects addressed to decision makers and engineers from public authorities and industry as well as project developers and financing institutions. TREE seminars are held both at RENAC Training Center in Berlin and in selected partner countries throughout the world. TREE promotes the acquisition and dissemination of knowhow on renewables and energy efficiency both at a technical and a non-technical level.

Renewable Solution The educational concept of TREE is multidimensional. The project also offers online seminars and follow-up advice, so participants have the possibility to deepen their knowledge individually after attending seminars. TREE Alumni also stay in touch through the TREE intranet. There they can exchange ideas, problems, and

solutions from each other. Also included are a series of publications on legal aspects of strategy development for ministry employees as well as a transportable exhibition on renewable energy technologies.

Project financing TREE is supported by the International Climate Initiative of the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), and was recognized by the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.

Project Outcome In 2008/2009, 560 participants from 14 different countries participated in the seminars. In 2010, 450 decision makers from 115 countries are expected to take part. Evaluation of the first TREE project in 2008/2009 shows that many participants implemented their own EE and RE projects in their countries, conducted seminars or used the knowledge gained for the elaboration of strategies and road maps for renewables in ministries, and other public authorities.



Rural Energy Foundation (REF)

Willem Nolens +31 626 696 693

Electricity for 500,000 through Solar.Now! Network Company Description REF facilitates access to renewable energy to thousands in sub-Saharan Africa through market development. The focus is on effectively reducing the three main barriers to sustainable growth: a lack of availability, low awareness and limited affordability. An entrepreneur starting his solar energy business as part of the Solar.Now! network. REF was founded in 2003 and currently has teams on the ground in Burkina In 2010, REF won the EU Sustainable EnerFaso, Ethiopia, Mali, Mozambique, Senegal, gy Award and the 2010 International Ashden Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Awards.

The Challenge In 2010, most African rural households lack access to modern energy. Even though attractive and lowcost renewable energy solutions have been developed, these solutions are hardly available in rural areas as entrepreneurs lack the technical skills and capacity to start or expand a renewable energy business. The public is hardly aware of the benefits and many households do not have the cash to make the upfront investment. The challenge is to build a sustainable supply chain, boost awareness and improve affordability. This way, millions of households can reduce their energy expenses and accelerate their development.

Opportunities for Renewables Solar home systems, pico hydro systems, household biogas systems, improved cook stoves, siphon water filters and LED lighting can be sold and serviced by local entrepreneurs, reducing dependency on subsidies. This represents a great opportunity for households to reduce their energy expenses, increase productivity and their living conditions.

Renewable Solution REF coaches, supports, and finances entrepreneurs, their technicians, and sales staff, which creates sustainable supply chains. Awareness is boosted by large-scale marketing campaigns and local village demonstrations. Finally, as soon as supply and de-


mand start to develop, REF implements credit and carbon schemes thereby improving the affordability of the products.

Project financing The Solar.Now! program is financed by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, DOEN Foundation and private donors. The funds are employed where the impact is highest against the lowest-possible costs. Overhead costs have been consistently below 8%.

Project Outcome Since 2007, REF facilitated access to electricity to 500,000 people at a cost of less than EUR 4 per connected person.


SMA Solar Technology

Michael Wollny Tel. +49 561 9522-4122 Michael.Wollny@SMA.DE

Largest RE hybrid system on Vaitupu, Tuvalu Company Description The SMA Solar Technology AG develops and sells solar inverters and central components of every solar power system. Currently SMA has Solar System at Motufoua Secondary School, Vaitupu, Tuvalu. over 5000 employees, is present in all the world´s important markets of the future, for both grid-connected and stand-alone solar and is the only manufacturer to supply inverters systems.

The Challenge The Motufoua Secondary School is home to 600 children and consists of classrooms and dormitories for boys and girls, as well as a large kitchen, dining hall, and showering facilities where 24/7 electricity was desperately needed. At the request of the Tuvaluan government (Ministry of Public Utilities, Energy and Industries) for a 46kW battery based and grid paralleled PV system for the school, the largest hybrid system based on renewable energy in the Pacific Region was installed and commissioned.

Opportunities for Renewables The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN - Oceania) audited the school to determine the need of a 46kWp PV system and a battery system that supplies 200kWh per day.

Renewable Solution The technology used is the state-of-the-art AC-coupled off-grid systems from SMA Solar Technology AG equipped with 9 x Sunny Island 5048 and 6 x Sunny Mini Central 8000TL based on 3 banks of 4500Ah FLA batteries each at 48V from BAE, Germany. The PV system consists of 272 x ERA Solar 185W panels.

Project financing The system was planned and installed from Eco Kinetics Pty. Ltd., based in Brisbane, Australia, who organised the whole project in terms of sizing, installing and training as well as especially the shipment of 47 tonnes of equipment to Vaitupu from

Germany and Australia. As a sustainably planned project, an 11-day training was conducted by Eco Kinetics Pty Ltd and SMA Australia Pty Ltd with the theoretical contents of basics of PV systems, system sizing, and technology of hybrid systems as well as practical components of installation, safety, commissioning and data collection.

Project Outcome After just one month of operation by the Tuvalu Electricity Corporation (TEC), the gathered data from the system shows already that approx. 46.000 litres of diesel will be saved each year, which is equal to approx. 65.000AUD currently. The school is now provided with electricity 24/7 whereas a diesel genset was the only source in former times being turned off during the night. Above that, this system will also in contribute to the education of the Tuvaluan population and bring forward the technology of renewable energies in the pacific region. Tuvalu has already signalled the aim to install more systems of even greater size on another island in the state, based on the same technology.




Dotun Tokun +23417740887

Solar Power for an African Mission Station in Nigeria Company Description SOLARMATE undertakes design, supply and installation of power solutions for the various sectors of our Nation’s economy. The company is entirely Nigerian. Solarmate Engineering Limited is managed and directed by professional engineers and was founded in 1996.

Installing the solar array (60 No. 190Wp Solar Modules) at Akwunanaw, Eastern Nigeria.

The Challenge The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SND) require stable electricity for their mission houses located in Nigeria. Unfortunately, grid provided electricity in Nigeria is irregular and unstable.

Opportunities for Renewables This region of Nigeria receives high radiation levels ideal for efficient solar PV utilization (an average of 5.2kWh/m2/day). Unreliable fuel supply coupled with high cost of fuel and tough logistics challenges makes renewable energy attractive for the region.

Renewable Solution • 60 No. 190Wp Evergreen solar modules • 12 No. Surrette 4V, 1350Ah @ 20 hr Lead-Acid battery • 3 No. Outback 3000VA inverter/charger • Diesel-engine generator set 8KVA, 6.4KW, 3 phase, 4 wire, 380-415/220-240 volts • Grounding and lightning protection The solar package was designed and installed to provide power the following loads: Lighting, water purifier, general power and Telecoms equipment, for both the convent house and the Primary school. Some of the Sisters at the convent were trained on simple operation and maintenance procedures.


Thomwell Energy Services Inc. acted as advisor and project developer to the SND. Thomwell was responsible for the engineering and procurement of offshore equipment, while Solarmate (as a subcontractor to Thomwell) was responsible for: a) Provide logistical support in the shipment of material from outside of Nigeria to the Contractor’s facilities for subsequent forwarding to installation sites. b) For procurement of materials locally as requested by Thomwell. c) For design of certain portions of the installation subsystems as directed by Thomwell d) For construction services of the photovoltaic and related systems at the various installation locations.

Project financing The project was financed by donors to the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.

Project Outcome The project has been operational since October 2008. The convent houses up to 20 people with up to 100 students.



Ulrich Warna Tel. +49 22855920581

7000 homes receive clean PV-based renewable energy in China Company Description SolarWorld is one of the leading PV-manufacturers covering the entire value chain from raw silicon to both complete grid-connected and off-grid solutions worldwide – from Wp-Solar Home Systems to MWp power plants.

Village power supply in Yunnan province of China.

The Challenge Many remote villages in west and southern provinces of China are not connected to public electricity grid due to large distances, difficult accessibility, and expected low energy demands. This denies communities of development opportunities through access to electricity.

Opportunities for Renewables

Project financing

The target destinations for this project are well suited for the use of solar energy. Some regions are in the vicinity of desert areas, some are located at high altitudes of up to 4500m and others are based in subtropical areas. All of these conditions provide good irradiation conditions for the use of photovoltaic off-grid systems.

This project was co-financed by the Chinese Ministry of Finance and the German Kreditanstalt fĂźr Wiederaufbau (KfW). Financial support was also granted by regional and local bureaus of finance. Last but not least, the connected villagers contribute by paying their electricity bill. The regional and local financial support enables the local project execution agencies to make provisions for e.g. subsequent battery replacements ensuring the sustainability of the project.

Renewable Solution After thorough assessment of sociological, economical and technical factors, each village was equipped with a central village power supply system based on the ACcoupled Sunny Island technology. All power systems are based on SolarWorld’s multi-crystalline solar modules designed for off-grid applications. In some villages, a diesel generator has been installed to backup the photovoltaic system in periods with reduced insolation (i.e. rainy season) and to reduce the necessary battery size.

Project Outcome All in all, 142 villages were equipped with renewable power systems. Basic electrification to power lighting, telecommunication, information technology, and entertainment has been provided to almost 30,000 people.




Simon Henschel +65 8435 9806

Solar Lanterns for 1200 homes in Lao PDR Company Description Sunlabob has been developing and providing renewable energy solutions in Laos since 2000. Our main focus is on off-grid rural areas, which represent over 75% of the country’s 5.6 million inhabitants. Our solution empowers communities, whilst improving health and safety, and creating opportunities for income-generating and educational activities.

Village Entrepreneur issuing a solar lantern to a villager.

The Challenge Laos is one of the world’s poorest nations with poverty concentrated in its rural areas. Kerosene lamps are widely used for lighting, which constitute a major fire and health hazard, and only offer dim lighting. Solar lanterns have so far failed to replace kerosene lamps due to low quality and misuse.

Opportunities for Renewables Being located in South-East Asia, Laos has plenty of sunshine, offering ideal conditions for photovoltaic applications. However, night falls early all year round so the need for lighting after sunset is imperative. The population is dispersed, making standalone renewable energy systems a viable solution.

Renewable Solution Sunlabob has developed a rental scheme to enable poor households to afford solar lanterns. The system comprises a solar charging station and lantern units, operated by a village entrepreneur. Based on a fee-forservice concept, this model replicates conventional fuel consumption practices.

Project financing The project is financed via a private-public partner-


ship. Sunlabob provides the charging stations, which are rented to village entrepreneurs via franchise arrangements. A public donor finances the lantern units, which are managed by a village committee and also rented to the village entrepreneur. Following the initial investments, the model is designed to be maintained with rental income alone.

Project Outcome Pilot tests have revealed considerable interest for our solar lanterns in rural Laos. In 2008, Sunlabob launched a south-south business initiative with the Ugandan company TSSD. Now solar powered charging stations are operating in several remote Ugandan villages. In 2009, Sunlabob was approached by USAID, ASMED, and DAI to carry out an assessment of the feasibility of the solar lantern project in Afghanistan, taking into account the local human, social and technical constraints.


Trama TechnoAmbiental (TTA)

Xavier Vallvé Tel. +34 934 463 234

PV hybrid energy powers a village of 19 homes in Ecuador Company Description Trama TecnoAmbiental (TTA) is an international consulting and engineering firm working since 1986 in General view of the community in San Lorenzo. the field of renewable energies, environmental projects and technology development. studies, policy and implementation in many develIn rural electrification, TTA has been involved in oping countries.

The Challenge Due to the impact on the project’s financial applicability, ensuring that a long-lasting battery is operational over its lifetime is necessary. The energy supply depends on resource availability and the technical conditions of the area.

Opportunities for Renewables

3 households respectively. All consumers are supplied with 120Vac electrical energy.

“La Ye” is a lumberjack community within the Municipality of San Lorenzo in Ecuador. The village is isolated, but radiation conditions are very good (avg. G10 = 3,2 kWh/m2/day).

Project financing

Renewable Solution With a mixture of clustered and scattered buildings in the village, the solution is based on a combination of a micro-grid and individual micro power plants under the same operation scheme. TTA’s design energy dispensers are used with a project-tailored tariff system to ensure the energy usage is according to the resource availability and the technical conditions. TTA’s proprietary charge control technology is used to ensure long battery life. A single 3,3 kWp PV generator supplies a DC coupled micro power plant with a 30 kWh battery storage and 3,6 kVA DC-AC inverter feeding a micro-grid. Individual 400 Wp and 200 Wp PV systems supply 6 and

Initial investment: Grant by the bi-lateral Catalan Aid Agency (ACCD) and co-funding by Barcelona City Council, the community and the Municipality of San Lorenzo. Operational costs and sustainability: Tariffs are flat rate, fixed for consumption level (550 Wh/day or 275 Wh/day). TTA’s design energy dispensers offer dynamic energy management.

Project Outcome Project feedback demonstrated complete satisfaction from the users and the local authorities. The system has greatly improved the quality of life of residents through providing basic services and entertainment and furthermore, has already generated incipient micro-businesses.



The Wind Factory

Pieter Klimp Tel. +31 (0)20 3422137

Installation of a Wind-diesel Hybrid system in Ilakaka, Madagascar Company Description The Wind Factory has over 20 The Wind Factory installation in Madagascar. years experience in Engineering, Installation, Operation & Maintenance of on- and in-house. As a group, we have installed hundreds off-grid wind energy systems. Our focus is on de- of wind turbines worldwide. Additional O&M concentralized small and medium sized wind turbine tracts shows our long term sustainable commitsystems, of which the majority is manufactured ment.

The Challenge The project site in Ilakaka is a rural village with several thousand inhabitants and is a typical example of an isolated grid in Madagascar. The energy is sourced by expensive inefficient diesel power and distributed by a local IPP. Energy demand is rising due to increasing local businesses.

Opportunities for Renewables The wind speed on the hills near Ilakaka have enough potential to source energy, especially during the late afternoon and evening when consumption is at its peak. The existing diesel generator runs almost 24/7. Adding a Hybrid wind turbine of a similar power in parallel decreases the diesel consumption instantly.

Renewable Solution The old inefficient diesel generator was replaced with a modern one of 100kVA and combined with an 80kW Hybrid wind turbine. The wind turbine has two blades with a rotor diameter of 18m on a tower of 30m with integrated Telecom antenna for a local provider. The hybrid controller of the wind turbine has remote control and can achieve a unique 100% wind penetration! Yearly production of the wind turbine is about 160.000kWh at 6 m/s average wind speed. We trained our Malagasy colleagues in The Netherlands and onsite for installation and maintenance of wind turbines.

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So far they installed and maintain over 40 off-grid wind turbines in Madagascar for IPP’s, Telecom and Private businesses.

Project financing The project has been financed by The Wind Factory International in combination with its branch in Madagascar and the local IPP, supported by a Private Partnership Program of the Dutch Government.

Project Outcome Over 400 grid connections provide energy to about 2500 people and over 200 businesses. Diesel consumption is expected to reduce by 40.000L annual, saving over 100Mt CO2. The local grid has been improved and new kWh-counters have been installed. As the biggest wind turbine built in Madagascar, this project has given confidence to local government and private businesses that wind energy is not exclusive for main grids.


These projects make a difference These projects are just a small selection of the thousands that are being realised worldwide by members of the Alliance. Through only 18 projects, these companies have provided access to electricity to almost 1 million people in 23 different countries in 3 continents. Moreover, they have lead to enhanced education and healthcare, increasing access to water, and empowering women through modern energy services. The companies have transferred knowledge to electricity users; electrification can act as a starting point for self sustained economic growth and job creation. Thus, these case studies emphasize capacity building and project maintenance in addition to renewable solutions. The projects comprise more than 4 MW of power capacity and through displacing the diesel equivalent; they help to avoid more than 7000 tons of CO2 emissions annually. Most importantly, these projects bring living proof that the business community, the public authorities and the people in developing countries, using a variety of frameworks and financing schemes, can work hand in hand to alleviate poverty and to create sustainable and clean economic growth.

Lessons Learned Despite the breadth in project design, there are some key lessons that emerge from these practise examples: • Rural electrification is not a straightforward process. It requires sophisticated approaches and long-term planning and life-cycle costs have to be calculated over the expected long-term time horizon of each project. • Rural electrification projects must adapt to local conditions; the mobilization of local communities and local companies is essential. Consumers must be educated on their electricity use, and local installer and technician training is indispensible. Capacity building, therefore, is crucial to the success of implementing off-grid projects. • Projects must safeguard operations and maintenance. Very often electricity consumers cannot afford to cover the full generation costs. As a consequence, appropriate financing schemes which safeguard the long term operations are essential. • Energy efficiency must be a guiding principle right from the inception of the project. • The overall stability of legal and financial framework conditions is very important. If these conditions are put in place, renewable energy technologies can be the economical key for alleviating poverty and bringing electricity where it is most needed.

Next steps ARE invites all stakeholders in the field of access to energy and energy security to consider the opportunities for renewables in rural development and to take on board the key lessons that our members have shared. ARE invites other project operators in this field to get in touch with us and to share their own experiences and encourages readers to contact the project leads for further information.


The Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE) is the international business organisation for the renewable energy off-grid sector. Our members are companies, research institutes, renewable energy agencies and associations. ARE members stand for high quality, experience and sustainability. Together we develop the renewable energy markets of the future!

Information: Authors : Guido Glania, Simon Rolland, Aneri Patel • Second edition – Publication date : February 2011 Cover picture courtesy of Phaesun Gmbh Alliance for Rural Electrification • Renewable Energy House • Rue d’Arlon 63-65 • 1040 Brussels Tel. +32 2 400 10 52 • E-mail: •

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