One of the world’s most respected and oldest solar companies, Solarcentury, will partner with the European Union and United Nations Development Programme to build two solar-powered mini-grids in Eritrea, in East Africa.
Solarcentury, a British solar power developer that was founded back in 1998, was selected to design and build two solar-powered mini-grids which will use solar PV and lithium batteries to power communities in the rural towns and surrounding villages of Areza and Maidma, in the East African country of Eritrea — towns and villages which have no access to grid power, and rely entirely on diesel generators. The 2.25 megawatt (MW) project sounds small, but Solarcentury boasts that it will highlight the value of solar hybrid power systems and provide grid-quality power to 40,000 rural people and businesses, used to living off the grid, while also presenting a model for the rural electrification of Africa.
While Solarcentury is only announcing the agreement now, there was an statement made by the European Union External Action (EEAS), the European Union’s diplomatic service, in January of this year announcing what appears to be the same agreement between Solarcentury, the EU, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The latest announcement of the agreement explains that it will be funded by the European Union through the ACP EU Energy Facility, the Government of the State of Eritrea, and the UNDP in Eritrea — each of which will contribute €8,000,000, €1,893,429, and €1,923,284 respectively. The project will be managed by the Eritrean Ministry of Energy and Mines, and is expected to be completed by early 2018.
“Solar power and energy storage technologies are increasingly the most cost-effective way to deliver clean reliable power to areas remote from the grid,” said Dr Daniel Davies, Director of Hybrid Power Systems at Solarcentury. “This exciting project builds on the work we have done elsewhere in Africa and will demonstrate the amazing potential for solar to provide low-cost reliable power in isolated areas.”
“This project aims to improve the livelihoods of people living in rural towns and villages,” added an unnamed representative of the Eritrean Ministry of Energy and Mines. “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.”