HomeIndustry SectorsGenerationUS consortium powers West African island

US consortium powers West African island

A US power consortium is set to install 20,000 solar panels across the West African island Annobon by the end of 2015, the US News Journal reported.

Owner of solar panel manufacturing firm Sun-in-One Bill Rawheiser, has partnered with international consultancy MAECI Solar , GE Power & Water and Princeton Power Systems to install solar panels in four key areas of the island.Annobon

Located 565km southwest of Equatorial Guinea, the island has a population of 5,000 who rely on diesel powered generators, which only run for five hours a day.

Despite being one of the largest oil producers in sub-Saharan Africa, the oil resources are sold to Exxon, Mobil and Hess and in return the nation gets royalties, Rawheiser explains.

“They have the resources but the resources aren’t really theirs. Exxon, Mobil and Hess extract the raw oil and the country gets royalties”, he added.

These royalties have been incorporated into a $1 billion (ZAR12 billion) economic development plan named Horizon 2020. The solar project falls under this initiative.

Rawheiser continued: “Because the island is so remote, it costs quite a bit to get the refined diesel fuel there to run the generators. That’s why this project makes sense. Right now, it costs them $0.30 to $0.35 to produce a kilowatt-hour with diesel, but it’s only about $0.20 to $0.25 with solar and battery storage”.

The generated solar power will be stored in 6MW batteries which have back-up generators to cope with emergencies and peak demand.

“We started in September 2013 and I’d like to think we’ll be done by the end of the year. In Africa, the logistics are different, so things tend to take longer”, Rawheiser said.

Energy efficiency

Wilmington firm Sun-In-One is extending their services by changing energy behaviours by replacing 10,000 lightbulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs that have the capacity to put out 180 lumens per watt.

“[Currently] most of the island’s residents are using 100-watt bulbs, so the goal is to reduce the load by 90% before the micro-grid ever gets turned on”, Rawheiser said.

(Pic Credits: lasislasdelmundo.blogspot)

Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl
As the Editor of ESI Africa, my passion is on sustainability and placing African countries on the international stage. I take a keen interest in the trends shaping the power & water utility market along with the projects and local innovations making headline news. Watch my short weekly video on our YouTube channel ESIAfricaTV and speak with me on what has your attention.