BY ISMAIL AKWEL | FACE2FACE AFRICA
Described as a model for African rural electrification, Eritrea will soon launch two solar hybrid power systems that will provide grid quality electricity to 40,000 people and businesses in the towns of Areza and Maidma where there is no grid power at all.
The two agricultural towns in the Debub (Southern) region depend on small diesel generators which are environmentally damaging and provide limited and intermittent power supply.
“This project aims to improve the livelihoods of people living in rural towns and villages. It is hoped the project will be replicated in order to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change in Eritrea and provide access to reliable power 24/7,” says a representative of the Eritrean Ministry of Energy and Mines.
To save the environment and the standard of living of the people, the European Union, the United Nations Development Programme and the Government of Eritrea launched the project last year which will be completed in 2018 by the UK’s largest solar company, Solarcentury.
The US$6.56 million project is primarily financed by the EU through the ACP EU Energy Facility and the UNDP and Eritrea are contributing a little under €2 million (US$2.3 million) each.
The two mini-grid hybrid solar systems will be powered by solar PV and lithium-ion batteries.
“Photovoltaics are the cheapest form of power on the planet. Particularly in Eritrea, it’s blessed with an abundance of sunshine,” says Daniel Davies, Director of Hybrid Power Systems at Solarcentury.
He adds that the system will use Canadian solar panels and SMA inverters. Both projects were scheduled to be completed early in 2018 and will be managed by the Eritrean Ministry of Energy and Mines.