Africa is a continent laden with reserves of natural gas, crude oil, and tons of coal, but there is an even greater source for energy available…renewable energy. Many Africans are without reliable electricity or any at all. Currently, worldwide, 1.6 billion people are without electricity and half of that number are located in Africa. In Nigeria alone, 90 million people are without consistent electricity. Now more than ever, the Nigerian people are looking towards the sun as their hope for future reliable energy.
Thanks to off grid solar this dream is becoming a reality. The Nigerian energy companies Rubetec, GoSolar, GVE, and Nayo Tropical came together to create six mini pilot grids. These mini pilot grids supply 15,000 people from 5 different Nigerian states with electricity that is reliable for the very first time.
Mini grids are promising for a few reasons. First, these mini grids take only one month to build. Second, the mini grids offer low-cost electricity. Third, mini grids offer electricity that is reliable and far reaching.
So how does a mini grid work? Let’s look at the village of Gbamu-Gbamu in the Ogun state of Nigeria. Nigerians have been given many unfilled promises in regards to electricity coming to their village. The villagers of Gbamu-Gbamu were no exception. Naturally they were skeptical when the first winds of the mini pilot grids blew their way. But Rubitec Solar came into their village equipped with an action plan that spoke louder than words.
Within a month, Rubitec Solar constructed an 85 kW solar, hybrid mini-grid that changed the lives of the villagers. The mini-grid partners with 300 large solar panels that are connected to a small energy station. The panels do their part in gathering the sun’s energy, while inside the station, the imported inverters and batteries do theirs by storing enough energy for the village’s needs. Wires strung on wooden poles provided the last connecting factor for transferring reliable 24-hour electricity to Gbamu-Gbamu for its first time.
Previously, the village ran on the only other off grid energy option, diesel. The diesel generators were unreliable and inefficient. The transportation of the diesel jugs was tedious and difficult, and the generators did not provide enough power to run all household appliances simultaneously. Now, for the first time, villagers who tap into this new power source can run all their appliances at the same time. Despite the cost of both diesel and solar power being about equal, the switch to solar is a wise choice for the villagers of Gbamu-Gbamu since they get more for their money. No one should turn down a deal like this and fortunately for this village, it’s a win for everyone. Off-grid solar power is evolving into multiple forms and mini grids showcase the potential and future that off-grid solar offers the world.
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