Five of the six plants will be 50 kilowatts (kW) in size, while the remaining one will be 100 kW. They will be located across six villages in Mali, and are expected to be operational by this June. As in 2008, two of the photovoltaic systems will replace diesel mini-grids. The equipment will come from European manufacturers.
FRES, the Foundation Rural Energy Services tells pv magazine, "In Sub Sahara Africa there is a high demand for rural electrification through decentralized systems as SHS or solar mini-grids since the government cannot supply electricity though the conventional net (high costs….). The governments invite us to perform this task for them."
In July 2011, FRES, with the help of Asantys Systems, installed what they say are two of the largest off-grid photovoltaic systems on the African continent. Asantys, a German system integrator and EPC provider, installed both the 50 kWp and 150 kWp plants in Malis Ourikela and Kolondieba within a seven month time period.
A total of 867 Centrosolar 203 kWp photovoltaic modules were used, in addition to 825 batteries from Hoppecke and 55 of SMAs inverters.
A Centrosolar spokesperson tells pv magazine, "Projects like the one in Mali and partnerships like the one with Asantys are for Centrosolar a strategic perspective to get experience on knowledge in off-grid and rural markets and with technologies apart from grid connection. The solar module is the most important component in such a system."
They add that the African continent is an important market for the company. To date, it has delivered over 2,000 photovoltaic modules to the market. "With new upcoming projects the number will increase."
The spokesperson could not, however, release any further specific project information.