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Energy supply to remote islands in Africa

With at least 300 remote islands distant from the mainland in Africa, Schneider and Dong Energy are cooperating to find a more sustainable energy supply to such remote islands. The ambition is to enable African electric network operators of remote or isolated island grids to increase the share of renewables used while maintaining grid stability and reliability for consumers.

Of the world’s fifty-two Small Island Developing States (SIDS), six are in Africa. They include; Cape Verde, Comoros, Guinea Bissau, Mauritius, São Tomé and Príncipe and Seychelles. These countries range in size from the smallest, Seychelles, which is composed of 115 small islands representing the largest number among African SIDS, to the largest, Guinea Bissau, which comprises close to 80 islands.

These isolated island grids are often heavily diesel-dependent, incurring high electricity costs and subject to fluctuating fuel prices. This is a barrier for local economic development, for improving living standards. Many island utility operators aim to replace diesel with renewable generation to reduce costs. However the main challenge of integrating intermittent renewable energy is the ensuing complexity of balancing the grid and maintaining reliability and stability. In effect this can cap the amount of renewable energy which can be efficiently integrated.

With Dong Energy’s virtual power plant technology and Schneider Electric’s distribution grid field devices and management systems, the partners will deal with these crucial issues. The aim is to create a new platform offering real-time generation and demand forecasting, monitoring and control.

“Dong Energy has developed a virtual power plant system called Power Hub, which aggregates loads and generation capacity for network flexibility through a software platform. The system has already successfully demonstrated its capability and value in optimising, balancing and improving the stability of remote micro-grids at the Faroe Islands. Integrating Power Hub with Schneider Electric’s power and grid management software platform will enable us to deliver a solution that deals with an important challenge of how to run an isolated electricity system in a safe, economically optimal manner, while making maximum use of renewables. Not only in Europe, but also in Africa and globally,” Evert den Boer, senior vice president in Dong Energy, says.