Few people will be able to accurately locate Benin on a map, but given a clue that the tiny nation is located in West Africa, most will be able to make a couple of accurate assumptions about the country. Yes, Benin is poor, and yes, it is also blessed with abundant sunshine.
Wedged between Nigeria to the east and Togo to the west, and perched just above the equator, the French-speaking nation rarely makes headlines, squeezed out by its bigger neighbors in matters political and economical.
Its historical ties to France, however, have made it a recipient in recent years of a handful of French-backed projects to alleviate certain ills that continue to bedevil the country, such as access to clean running water and reliable power.
One such recent campaign was overseen by French NGO Synergie Solaire and enlisted the help and expertise of Spanish inverter specialists Ingeteam.
Completed in May, Ingeteam worked with Synergie Solaire to develop and connect a 6 kW rooftop solar PV system at a hospital in the village of Kotopounga in northern Benin. Synergie Solaire created an endowment fund for the project, selecting Ingeteam to deliver an inverter and battery storage solution to manage the solar arrays output and store excess energy.
Ingeteam employed its 6 kW Ingecon Sun 6TL inverter and a 6 kW Ingecon Sun Storage 6Tl battery (utilizing OPZS Hoppecke technology) for the project, the companys marketing and communications officer Carlos Lezana told pv magazine.
The hospital had previous been subjected to frequent blackouts during the heavy and often violent thunderstorms that intermittently puncture the calm blue skies that are Benins stock-in-trade. Previous exposure to such unreliable power had put at risk the lives of hundreds of patients, but the new solar+storage offering ensures that supply is steady, clean affordable and most importantly of all reliable, even in inclement weather.
"The whole experience was great and gave me a whole new meaning about the decentralized concept of energy," said Rémi Albertin, Ingeteams engineer who was in charge of the commissioning. "This is a new energy model that we will see more and more frequently in such African countries. This system was the only one working in the village after we left, due to a grid outage caused by the rain. This allowed the medical centre to still be able to provide much-needed healthcare to its patients."