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DRC heritage park installs solar microgrids

Established in 1925, the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has installed three solar microgrids at three ranger stations to support the daily duties of the rangers.

Home to the world’s last remaining mountain gorillas, park rangers have been challenged by poachers and increased deforestation, which could be reduced by access to a reliable supply of power.

Microgrids to support ranger operations

Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the microgrids were installed by US-based company SolarCity through the support of the GivePower Foundation, a non-profit organisation, and Empowered by Light, an organisation aimed at socio-economic upliftment through renewable energy technologies.

According to SolarCity: “GivePower Foundation is providing the solar power installation, engineering, design and training for the Virunga community to fully utilise the benefits of solar power.

“Tesla’s battery storage technologies are also being used for the minigrid project to allow park rangers to utilise solar power around the clock.”

Sticking to timelines

According to SolarCity engineer and installation volunteer, Joe O’Connor, the project installed 200 solar panels, seven Tesla Powerwalls, several SolarEdge inverters, as well as lights and plugs for dozens of buildings.

To ensure that the installation was carried out on time and within budget, local electricians and construction crews were employed and trained, SolarCity said in a statement.

The installation took three weeks, after a four-month strategy process, which now provides clean power necessary for cooking, communication, lighting and GPS, reducing the need for heavy-duty diesel generators.

Featured image: Mountain Gorilla (Humba family) – Virunga National Park (24)



Ashley Theron
Ashley Theron-Ord is based in Cape Town, South Africa at Clarion Events-Africa. She is the Senior Content Producer across media brands including ESI Africa, Smart Energy International, Power Engineering International and Mining Review Africa.