PV mini-grid to back Congolese agriculture


Ugandan mini-grid developer Equatorial Power has announced plans to install a system to power agricultural projects on Idjwi Island in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Equatorial and SustainSolar – a South African off-grid PV system integrator specializing in rural electrification in Africa – will install containerized, off-grid solar-battery power systems on the continent’s second-biggest inland island.

The developer will install SustainSolar’s turnkey container solution, the Sustain Compact, which pairs SMA inverters with batteries from South African supplier SolarMD. The system offers 29.7 kWp of solar and 88.8 kWh of lithium-ion battery storage capacity in a 20-foot container.

Cape Town-based SustainSolar will handle door-to-door logistics, installation and commissioning.


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“SustainSolar’s plug ’n’ play solution significantly reduces the operational complexity around sourcing and installing the power generation unit,” said Abishek Bharadwaj, chief technical officer of Equatorial Power. “This leaves our team with more time to focus on the distribution and metering infrastructure and serving customers earlier than usual.”

Equatorial has been running a solar mini-grid on Idjwi Island since 2019 which serves more than 300 homes and small businesses. The company will build its new mini-grid on a plot around 30km from the first system. The partner companies will connect an industrial hub and supplementary systems but the logistics are expected to be challenging.

“Even under normal, non-Covid circumstances, managing the shipping of a 20-foot container onto an island in eastern Congo [is] a demanding task,” said SustainSolar project engineer John Fadiran.

In January, Congolese president Felix Tshisekedi announced plans to use off-grid renewable energy systems to bring electricity to at least 21 million people by 2029.

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