Veolia Foundation supporting a nano-grid project in Madagascar

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The Veolia Foundation announced it would renew its support for Nanoé Développement, an association that set out to build nano-grids in rural parts of Africa, where electricity supply is scarce.

Each nano-grid connects between four and six homes in Madagascar’s Ambanja district, Diana region in the North-west. Nanoé Développement said that less than 5% of the population has access to electricity in this region, and further stipulates that the lack of electricity is the main contributor to the lack of economic activity.

The households pre-purchase daily access to a bespoke electricity supply, via a mobile app. Nanoé Développement said that its solution is scalable, and can also be used in conjunction with the main grid.

The association said the project also boosts job creation, as part of the project is to train local people how to build, operate and maintain solar nano-grids. Nanoé Développement said the trainees, termed “nano-entrepreneurs”, would be another benefit to the community in which the grids are deployed.

Earlier this year, Veolia supported the association to run a trial in Madagascar, which connected 300 to homes to “nano-grids.” After this proof of concept, Veolia committed to supporting the association further to meet its next goal of connecting 1,000 homes, and training 100 nano-entrepreneurs.

“By creating a new progressive and modular ‘lateral electricity’ model, electricity becomes accessible to everyone. The system prioritizes the gradual interconnection of small decentralized and locally-managed grids, rather than developing a national infrastructure, which is likely to stop before it reaches rural areas,” explain Nolwenn Le Saux and Nicolas Saincy, both engineers behind this innovation and founders of Nanoé Développement.

According to the association, 650 million people in Africa live without access to electricity. Distributed generation solutions have been a hot candidate for connecting rural parts of the continent to electricity.

Setting up micro-/nano-grids, which are sourcing electricity from solar PV would be considerably cheaper than investing in massive grid expansion for scarcely populated areas.