Photovoltaic Solar Energy for 850 households in Mali

Two of the largest off-grid PV plants in Africa started operation in Mali using multicluster technology from SMA Solar Technology AG (SMA). Since August, both hybrid systems with a combined output of 200 kWp, have been supplying solar power to more than 850 households in the villages of Kolondieba (150 kWp) and Ourikela (50 kWp). The contracting authority for both projects is the Dutch Foundation Rural Energy Services (FRES), aiming to bring electricity to rural areas.

"Our AC-coupled off-grid solutions not only supply homes with electricity, but also contribute significantly to local creation of added value," said Volker Wachenfeld, Executive Vice President Off-Grid Solutions at SMA. Along with private households, a school, workshops, a bakery, a hotel and other shops are connected to the off-grid system. "That’s especially important to us, because only strengthening the local economy will make the residents of the village truly self-sufficient," Wachenfeld said. "This is the only way to make rural electrification really sustainable."

In rural regions of Africa, off-grid systems based on solar energy are the most economical way to supply energy. Here, often less than one percent of the population has access to the power distribution grid. SMA multicluster technology is the ideal solution for simple and modular design of large off-grid and hybrid systems with outputs of 30 to 300 kilowatts. The completely preconfigured system allows operation and maintenance to be performed by locally trained service staff. If additional diesel generators are connected, these add to the electricity supply if insufficient renewable energy is available, or they load the batteries.

The company Asantys Systems (based in Heidelberg, Germany) installed the turnkey plants in Mali within just seven months. SMA supplied the electric system components, the Sunny Island off-grid inverters, the Sunny Mini Central solar inverters and the Multicluster Boxes. The PV modules were delivered from Centrosolar in Hamburg, Germany, and the stationary batteries were provided by Hoppecke in Brilon, Germany. The operator of the plant is the African FRES subsidiary company Yeelen Kura; maintenance will be taken care of by Asantys Systems for a period of five years.

SMA Solar Technology AG (SMA/FWB: S92) is the global market leader for solar inverters. The SMA Group generated sales of €1.9 billion in 2010. It is headquartered in Niestetal, near Kassel, Germany, and is represented in 19 countries on four different continents. The Group employs a staff of over 5,300 worldwide, plus a number of temporary employees which varies on a seasonal basis. The multi award-winning product range covers solar inverters for roof systems, major solar projects and off-grid systems, enabling SMA to provide a technically optimized inverter solution for all size categories and system types. Its range of services is complemented by a worldwide service network. The highly flexible manufacturing plants for solar inverters in Germany and North America have a capacity of approximately 11.5 GW a year. The SMA Group also operates a manufacturing plant for electromagnetic core components in Poland. Since 2008, SMA has been listed on the Prime Standard of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and also in the TecDAX index. In recent years, SMA has received numerous awards for its excellence as an employer and achieved first place in 2011 in the federal "Great Place to Work" competition.

Asantys Systems is a system integrator for grid-tie and off-grid PV systems. The EPC supplier offers complete solutions from system dimensioning to installation and maintenance of PV plants in Germany and worldwide, with a special focus on Africa. The product portfolio ranges from village power supply, diesel-hybrid and backup systems and solar home systems to pump systems and street lighting – all with a focus on solar energy. Asantys Systems exports to more than 30 African countries and is experienced in project implementation in Africa for many years.