Engie finishes minigrid, expands PV home system business in Zambia

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The Paris-based conglomerate has installed one of its PowerCorner systems in Chitandika, a small village in the eastern part of the country. Zambian Minister of Energy Matthew Nkhuwa was on hand for the inauguration of the project. The village, which previously lacked access to electricity, is home to about 1,500 people. The minigrid will provide electricity to the village’s 378 households, as well as schools and a local health center.

“With the installation of this first PowerCorner, Engie confirms its progress in off-grid renewable energy solutions to improve electricity access in Africa,” the group said in an online statement. “Engie’s PowerCorner will foster economic development by enabling other electrical productive uses (such as water pumping for agriculture use or carpentry and welding machines) and by triggering business opportunities for entrepreneurs in the village.”

Engie has also built minigrids in Tanzania, with a total of 13 such projects now in operation or under construction. The company aims to install 2,000 minigrid systems throughout Africa by 2025.

“Engie is already present along the whole spectrum of solutions with its subsidiaries PowerCorner and Fenix for off-grid solutions, and utility-scale grid connected generation such as Kathu, our 100 MW concentrated solar power plant in South Africa,” said Engie CEO Isabelle Kocher.

Separately, Engie also revealed plans to expand Fenix, its Africa-focused home PV system business. Since launching the subsidiary in Zambia in late 2017, Engie has expanded Fenix into other markets on the continent, including Uganda, Zambia, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast and Benin. It claims to have sold more than 400,000 solar home systems throughout the region to date.

In October, Engie and Connected Power integrated a second-life EV storage system into distribution grid operator TenneT’s system in Rotterdam. The first phase of the grid-connected storage project is 150kW/90kWh in size and was designed to provide grid-balancing services to TenneT with second-life EV batteries.