Part of Grid Network »

The Grid Professionals Group covers electric current from its transmission step down to each customer's home. 

682 Members

WARNING: SIGN-IN

You need to be a member of Energy Central to access some features and content. Please or register to continue.

Post

Off the Grid Solar in Africa

ID 12159812 © Holger Karius | Dreamstime.com

According to the World Bank, Africa’s GDP in 2019 is expected to 3.4%. In some countries, however, it will be much higher. Ethiopia, for example, has a red hot economy right now and I recently read that the Ivory Coast’s GDP should eclipse 6% growth this year. Yet throughout the region growth is dogged by shotty infrastructure. Reliable grid connection is one of the biggest problems. 

A couple weeks ago, I pondered whether innovative new griddless systems would lead to more investment and greater growth in the global south. I highlighted the Rolls Royce Series 4000, a 16 cylinder natural gas beast that’s capable of pumping out up to 2,500 kW. The 4000 had recently been adopted by a pork processing plant in Puebla, Mexico. This week I came across more related content, an article in forbes about off the grid solar in Africa and its potential impact on the continent’s economy. 

According to author Ken Silverstein, there are 600 million Africans without access to electricity right now. What’s more, even those who have grid connections can’t really rely on them, since blackouts are such a pervasive problem. To mitigate the problem, households rely on things like fire, generators and kerosene. 

Luckily, some companies are providing affordable, off the grid solar systems. One of those companies is Lumos, the largest such provider in Nigeria. They currently have about 100 thousand customers who each pay around $15 a month in addition to a $40 startup fee. The company has big ambitions, though. They hope to supply solar to 100 million people in the next half decade. 

Lumos’ solar service, and others like it, are certainly a net positive for the region. However, I suspect they are no replacement for comprehensive, reliable grid systems. The problem, of course, is how to build those in cash-strapped nations with bad roads and tons of public graft. One belt one road?

Henry Craver's picture

Thank Henry for the Post!

Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.

Discussions

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Aug 23, 2019 7:39 pm GMT

Lumos’ solar service, and others like it, are certainly a net positive for the region. However, I suspect they are no replacement for comprehensive, reliable grid systems. 

This is great framing, and I would say it's important to say you can support both initiatives. The benefit of off the grid solar is that it can be implemented more quickly and immediately to offer respite in the short term and provide an increase to quality of life today, whereas the comprehensive grid is a longer term solution that must be included as well-- but with projects so large will take many years to get actually implemented. Taken together, these can be two sides of a great energy reinvigoration coin

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »