Schneider Electric, a leader in digital transformation of energy management and automation, has signed an agreement with EM-One Energy Solutions, a Nigerian sustainable energy engineering company, to help create an African mini-grid industry.
The mini-grid industry will involve decentralised electricity generation and distribution networks based on renewable energy, said a statement from Schneider Electric.
On this immense continent, many cities remain off-grid. With a population of more than 200 million, Nigeria is a country comprising 36 states, only one of which has an electricity network, it said.
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), West Africa’s energy consumption could quadruple by 2030 to reach 219 TWh a year, less than half of the 478 TWh was already consumed in France in 2018.
Part of the solution will come from mini-grids, decentralised networks powered by photovoltaic energy. Demand is high: an estimated 200,000 mini-grids are required to power the continent and reach the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7 (“Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”).
Schneider Electric, which produces mini-grids at its factory in Kenya, has decided to take its efforts to the next level, it added.
Paul-François Cattier, vice president business development - Middle East and Africa, Schneider Electric, said: “Rather than importing mini-grids produced in Europe, Asia or North America, we want to create an African mini-grid industry with operators, integrators, investors and local jobs.”
In the past 10 years, the group has already installed 700 mini-grids in Africa, mainly for rural electrification, through its Access to Energy programme. This has largely been achieved with donations to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and equipment often produced in Europe, added the statement.
For 18 months, led by its sustainability department, the group has been working to set up an industry based on mini-grids built or operated by local stakeholders. This has led to a first MoU with EM-One Energy Solutions, a company that also operates in Canada.
Cattier continued: “EM-One Energy Solutions has already won a contract for 30 mini-grids in Nigeria to power hospitals in Kaduna State and is also targeting the university and rural electrification market.”
“The MoU concerns our support with optimising the architecture of these projects and developing an industrial platform to integrate these mini-grids into containers in Nigeria and manufacture our company’s mini-grid solutions under license,” he added.
With 12 sales representatives spread out over 12 countries (Chad, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania, and others), Schneider Electric is seeking engineering procurement construction (EPC) companies to locally produce its solutions (e.g. Villaya Community, a mini-grid designed for rural electrification, providing 7-63 kW of power).
Schneider Electric will provide them with advice on setting up an industrial plant and testing. The group is also working with public and private funding bodies.
It intends to cover the full range of needs with capacities up to 500 kW (enough to power a city of 10,000 inhabitants in Africa) through its standardised solutions, and from 500 kW to 20 MW through specific architectures (for cities of several hundred thousand inhabitants that are without an electricity grid), it added.-TradeArabia News Service