Off-grid system provides Namibian community with 24-hour power

06. September 2011 | Applications & Installations, Global PV markets | By:  Jonathan Gifford

For the first time in three years, small communities in the Tsumkwe municipality of northern Namibia can enjoy around-the-clock power after the installation of one of Africda’s largest off-grid photovoltaic systems.

Workers digging trenches for power calbes.

The hybrid offgrid solution brings 24-hour power through a photovoltaic array, batteries and generators. Image: juwi.

The project, which was completed by German-based renewable integrator juwi and regional partner Alternative Energy Systems, will provide all public buildings and 100 homes in Tsumkwe with photovoltaic electricity. The 200 kilowatt peak (kW/p) photoltaic system is integrated with a three megawatt (MW) battery and three  diesel generators to provide 24-hour power.

With rising oil and therefore diesel costs, the communities previously had limited electricity supply, down to three hours per day. juwi and Alternative Energy Systems were able turn that completely around in only six weeks, with the installation of the hybrid system.

"We have set a standard with this plant that we would like to transfer to other African projects" says Fabian Jochem, head of juwi’ s Off-Grid Power Supply department.

Tsumkwe’s hospital, water supply, street lights, police station, radio station and mobile network are powered by the system, additionally to the residents’ homes.

918 polycrystalline modules were used for the installation. The three generators can be switched on during the night or in the case of low battery levels. A transformer station also can switch between two 11kW "mini grids" and therefore prioritize power supply to essential services if necessary.

Namibia’s Desert Research Foundation planned and supervised the project. It worked with the local power company NamPower. Members of the juwi team trained local technicians to operate and maintain the system. The solar plant can also be monitored remotely by juwi.


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