Solar Supporting Diesel Generators
Africa is the leading place to power places far from the grid using diesel generators. Entire villages, companies or sites are powered only by electricity produced by such diesel generators.
Until recently, solar PV was considered as an add-on to these generators, with the ability to reduce their fuel consumption by 20 to 50% depending on conditions. Below such levels, the generators cannot stay idle and additional constraints appear.
But the business model remained the same, especially with high oil prices and the additional cost of transporting (in some places far from large cities, the cost of fuel can go up to 5 USD per liter). On a regular basis, this takes large quantities of fuel to ensure regular production of electricity.
In the last years, the drop of battery prices has opened new opportunities to hybridize the GENSET with solar PV and batteries. In that case, the business models would encourage producing electricity with PV, store it in the batteries and keep the generator in reserve in case of a lack of production from PV during several days.
This business model is for instance promoted in Madagascar by the Belgian cooperation and other places. Such development implies a high level of commitment for maintenance since the lifetime of batteries will dramatically depend on it. In that respect, it might develop in the coming years under different business models where the question of the operations will take a higher turn than in the simple solar-diesel hybridization.
By solving the question of the delivery of fuel in time, solar and batteries also offer new opportunities for development to communities, which were not always considered in the past, while the extension of the grid to these communities can be envisaged in a faster way
Source:Solarize Africa Market Report | May 2019