Month: January 2017

 

African Solar farm that could power Europe!

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The minibus crosses the vast plateau on a newly paved road. Cracked fields stretch away towards the Moroccan desert to the south. Yet the barren landscape is no longer quite as desolate as it once was. This year it became home to one of the world’s biggest solar power plants.

The colossal African solar farm that could power Europe

Hundreds of curved mirrors, each as big as a bus, are ranked in rows covering 1,400,000 sq m (15m sq ft) of desert, an area the size of 200 football fields. The massive complex sits on a sun-blasted site at the foot of the High Atlas mountains, 10km (6 miles) from Ouarzazate – a city nicknamed the door to the desert. With around 330 days of sunshine a year, it’s an ideal location.

As well as meeting domestic needs, Morocco hopes one day to export solar energy to Europe. This is a plant that could help define Africa’s – and the world’s – energy future.

Of course, on the day I visit the sky is covered in clouds. “No electricity will be produced today,“ says Rachid Bayed at the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen), which is responsible for implementing the flagship project.

An occasional off day is not a concern, however. After many years of false starts, solar power is coming of age as countries in the sun finally embrace their most abundant source of clean energy. The Moroccan site is one of several across Africa and similar plants are being built in the Middle East – in Jordan, Dubai and Saudi Arabia. The falling cost of solar power has made it a viable alternative to oil even in the most oil-rich parts of the world.

Noor 1, the first phase of the Moroccan plant, has already surpassed expectations in terms of the amount of energy it has produced. It is an encouraging result in line with Morocco’s goal to reduce its fossil fuel bill by focusing on renewables while still meeting growing energy needs that are increasing by about 7% per year. Morocco’s stable government and economy has helped it secure funding: the European Union contributed 60% of the cost for the Ouarzazate project, for example.

The country plans to generate 14% of its energy from solar by 2020 and by adding other renewable sources like wind and water into the mix, it is aiming to produce 52% of its own energy by 2030. This puts Morocco more or less in line with countries like the UK, which wants to generate 30% of its electricity from renewables by the end of the decade, and the US, where President Obama set a target of 20% by 2030. (Trump has threatened to dump renewables, but his actions may not have a huge impact. Many policies are controlled by individual states and big companies have already started to switch to cleaner and cheaper alternatives.)

Due to the lack sun on the day I visit, the hundreds of mirrors stand still and silent. The team keeps a close eye on weather forecasts to predict output for the following day, allowing other sources of energy to take over when it is overcast.

But normally the reflectors can be heard as they move together to follow the Sun like a giant field of sunflowers. The mirrors focus the Sun’s energy onto a synthetic oil that flows through a network of pipes. Reaching temperatures up to 350C (662F), the hot oil is used to produce high-pressure water vapour that drives a turbine-powered generator. “It’s the same classic process used with fossil fuels, except that we are using the Sun’s heat as the source,” says Bayed.

The plant keeps generating energy after sunset, when electricity demands peak. Some of the day’s energy is stored in reservoirs of superhot molten salts made of sodium and potassium nitrates, which keeps production going for up to three hours. In the next phase of the plant, production will continue for up to eight hours after sunset.

As well as boosting Morocco’s power production, the Ouarzazate project is helping the local economy. Around 2,000 workers were hired during the initial two years of construction, many of them Moroccan. Roads built to provide access to the plant have also connected nearby villages, helping children get to school. Water brought in for the site has been piped beyond the complex, hooking up 33 villages to the water grid.

Masen has also helped farmers in the area by teaching them sustainable practices. Heading towards the mountains, I visit the Berber village of Asseghmou, 30 miles (48 kilometres) north of Ouarzazate, where a small farm has now changed the way it raises ewes. Most farmers here rely on their intuition alone but they are being introduced to more reliable techniques -such as simply separating animals in their pens – which are improving yields. Masen also provided 25 farms with sheep for breeding purposes. “I now have better food security,” says Chaoui, who runs a local farm. And his almond tree is thriving thanks to cultivation tips.

Even so, some locals have concerns. Abdellatif, who lives in the city of Zagora about 75 miles (120 kilometres) further south, where there are high rates of unemployment, thinks that the plant should focus on creating permanent jobs. He has friends who were hired to work there but they were only on contract for a few months. Once fully operational, the station will only require about 50 to 100 employees so the job boom may end. “The components of the plant are manufactured abroad but it would be better to produce them locally to generate ongoing work for residents,” he says.

A bigger issue is that the solar plant draws a massive amount of water for cleaning and cooling from the local El Mansour Eddahbi dam. In recent years, water scarcity has been a problem in the semi-desert region and there are water cuts. Agricultural land further south in the Draa valley depends on water from the dam, which is occasionally released into the otherwise-dry river. But Mustapha Sellam, the site manager, claims that the water used by the complex amounts to 0.5% of the dam’s supply, which is negligible compared to its capacity.

Still, the plant’s consumption is enough to make a difference to struggling farmers. So the plant is making improvements to reduce the amount of water it uses. Instead of relying on water to clean the mirrors, pressurised air is used. And whereas Noor 1 uses water to cool the steam produced by the generators, so that it can be turned back into water and reused to produce more electricity, a dry cooling system that uses air will be installed.

These new sections of the plant are currently being built. Noor 2 will be similar to the first phase, but Noor 3 will experiment with a different design. Instead of ranks of mirrors it will capture and store the Sun’s energy with a single large tower, which is thought to be more efficient.

Seven thousand flat mirrors surrounding the tower will all track and reflect the sun’s rays towards a receiver at the top, requiring much less space than existing arrangement of mirrors. Molten salts filling the interior of the tower will capture and store heat directly, doing away with the need for hot oil.

Similar systems are already used in South Africa, Spain and a few sites in the US, such as California’s Mojave desert and Nevada. But at 86ft (26m) tall, Ouarzazate’s recently erected structure is the highest of its kind in the world.

 

Other plants in Morocco are already underway. Next year construction will begin at two sites in the south-west, near Laayoune and Boujdour, with plants near Tata and Midelt to follow.

The success of these plants in Morocco – and those in South Africa – may encourage other African countries to turn to solar power. South Africa is already one of the world’s top 10 producers of solar power and Rwanda is home to east Africa’s first solar plant, which opened in 2014. Large plants are being planned for Ghana and Uganda.

Africa’s sunshine could eventually make the continent a supplier of energy to the rest of the world. Sellam has high hopes for Noor. “Our main goal is to become energy-independent but if one day we are producing a surplus we could supply other countries too,” he says. Imagine recharging your electric car in Berlin with electricity produced in Morocco.

With the clouds set to lift in Ouarzazate, Africa is busy planning for a sunny day. -bbc.com

 

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Installing solar panels on water. You have to see this to believe it

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Hangzhou Fengling finishes 200 MW solar-aquaculture project

 

Floating_Solar_array_Thomas_Roche

The panels were mounted on piles above the surface of the Changhe and Zhouxiang reservoirs in Cixi, Zhejiang province.

The Hangzhou-based company invested approximately 1.8 billion yuan ($262.6 million) in the project, which spans about 299.5 hectares.

It did not reveal the solar panel supplier.

In an online statement, the Cixi municipal authorities hailed the project as a “new model” for solar-aquaculture projects, as the PV modules were deliberately spaced far apart to allow enough sunlight to penetrate the water, which is critical for the growth of the fish beneath the surface.

Construction started in late June and wrapped up in December.

The project is expected to annually generate about 220 GWh of electricity, or enough to cater to the needs of roughly 100,000 homes.

A unit of utility State Grid built two 110 kV substations for the project.

The installation is considerably larger than a similar 120 MW project that was completed last May in Poyang county, Jiangxi province.

https://www.pv-magazine.com/2017/01/23/hangzhou-fengling-finishes-200-mw-solar-aquaculture-project/

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PHCN, Inverter or Solar? Which should I buy?

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There are 4 ways to get power today in Nigeria. The grid (NEPA/PHCN/DICO), a generator, an Inverter or a solar generator. While each has its strength, there are clear advantages some hold over the other. We will review them in Numerical order and then you can decide which is the best solution for you.

1. The grid NEPA/PHCN/DISCO. In most countries this is your first choice. It should be reliable, quick to deploy, low cost of ownership and requires no maintenance. In Nigeria and most of Sub Saharan Africa the grid is unreliable. You can go days without power. When the power is delivered it can be epileptic, too low or too high. Can be destructive to appliances and sensitive electronics. You can’t plan because there is no time table for when you will have power. Expensive to deploy in ares that don’t have access to the grid.

Tangle of NEPA wires

Tangle of NEPA wires

2. A Generator: Inexpensive to buy, very quick to deploy, very easy to purchase and it is a mature solution. Easy to deploy in remote areas Generators are noisy, they pollute, they require expensive fuel frequently, need service and require a ventilated area for installation. High risk of injury from burns or asphyxiation. The cost of fueling a generator can be high if you run them daily. Most small generators are designed as back up and they can’t run for extended periods of time without breaking down or service. Low quality generators can be destructive to sensitive electronics. The running costs are higher than an other solution available.

Sumec Generator

Sumec Generator

3. The Inverter: They cost more than a generator per Kw to buy and requires professional installation. They require very little maintenance, make no noise, don’t pollute, can be installed indoors. The require little to no maintenance. Inverters have an automatic transfer switch and UPS function built in. The Inverter needs the grid or a generator to recharge the batteries. They were not designed as permanent solutions, so they get hot during extended use and eventually will suffer failure from excessive heat. The battery chargers on most Inverters lack the proper charge logic, resulting in premature battery failure.

Luminous Inverter

Luminous Inverter

4. Solar power Generator: Has the most initial upfront cost per Kw. Requires installation by an experienced solar professional. Can be designed to meet the budgets and needs of a client. Can be a back up or permanent solution. Makes no noise, does not pollute, designed as a permanent solution, equipment is more robust and will last longer. Comes with a UPS and an automatic transfer switch built in. The batteries will charge with the sun, NEPA/PHCN or a generator. If the system is properly sized you can completely avoid using a generator. Some customers in remote areas have gone completely off the grid. Has running costs that are close to grid power per watt hour. Lowest after the grid. It takes a few days to as much as one month to tailor your usage to your installed capacity. Solar power requires that the panels be cleaned during the dry season.

Solar Panels on roof

What you decide to use will be determined by your budget, the amount of power you receive from the grid and how much space you have. We hope this helps you decide on a solution that will help you manage the poor supply coming from the grid.

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Premature death! How to avoid it

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The inverter was a glorious device when it was introduced to the Nigerian market. It allowed people to store power from NEPA/PHCN when it was available and released it when the power went out. This worked well for a while and suddenly after  years batteries started to die prematurely. What happened to cause the change?

Inverter Naija Style

The inverter as sold in Nigeria is a UPS with a large battery. They are designed to be a temporary back up for when power failed and returned not to too long after. (Just like you have with your desk top computers.) They are designed with small simple battery chargers because they were not designed to recharge overly discharged batteries. They also did not have proper low battery cut off for the same reason.

The power situation in Nigeria did not improve, it got worse. The inverter was now being counted on to provide power for longer periods of time. The batteries were now constantly over discharged and the tiny chargers could not charge them fast enough. (lead acid batteries don’t like to be discharged below 50%) Constant deep discharge and a poor charging regime causes sulfation. Sulfation is the build up of sulfates on the battery plates and on the positive and negative terminals of the battery. The build up reduces the flow of electricity from the positive and negative plates. Sulfation reduces the capacity of the battery. Your battery that once lasted 8 to 10 hours is now dead after 1 hour. Very severe sulfation can cause shorting of the plates and in extreme case bulging of the battery case.

How do you prevent premature death?

  • Buy good quality batteries. They resist sulphation better.
  • Avoid deep discharges. Your 24 V system should not be discharged below 24 V. Fastest way to kill them is by over discharging them
  • Fully charge your batteries every day with a smart charger. They don’t like to be partially charged. A smart battery charger has three stages. Bulk, Absorption and Float phase. This helps the plates shed sulphates.
  • If your finances allow get a good quality inverter. Adding solar power with a good charge controller is another way to get your battery properly charged while saving on fuel.

Try these steps and your batteries will last for as long as they were projected to last.

 

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Thousands of youths stormed the regional office of the Abuja Electricity Development Company in Minna and the state House of Assembly, threatening fire and brimstone!

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Do you know that solar power energy can solve over 80% of power outage in Nigeria?

“For more than two years now, Niger State has been in darkness.”

DISCO official disconnecting lines on electric pole

These were the words of aggrieved Niger State  youths protesting unbearable power outages in the state. The frustration of the youths represents the feeling across the nation over the worsening  power situation over the past three years since the private sector took over the generation and distribution of electricity in the country. From Port Harcourt to Kebbi, Kano to Oshogbo, Sapele to Umuahia, Lagos to    Sokoto and  Akure to Abakiliki, the story is the same: No power while  consumers pay for darkness. Today, the general feeling is that the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, has outperformed the electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOs, and Generation Companies, GENCO. Meanwhile, many concerned individuals and groups are calling for a review of  the privatization of the assets of the PHCN with a view to returning the sector to public control.

For example, while protesting the intolerable power situation in Niger State, thousands of youths  stormed the regional office of the Abuja Electricity Development Company, AEDC, in Minna and the state House of Assembly, threatening fire and brimstone. Numbering over 5,000, the protesters displayed various placards with inscriptions such as ‘AEDC must go’, ‘No light in Minna, bring back our light’, ‘We say no to darkness”, among others.

Spokesman  for the youths, Mohammed Aliyu Mohammed, said: “If AEDC plans to frustrate Nigerlites, then citizens of Niger State have learned to make things unbearable for AEDC too. We have told them that we need  light  24 hours everyday, and that pre-paid meters must be given to all consumers in the state. Niger as the power generating state deserves to have steady power supply since we have three major dams, failing which  we will continue to advocate and fight for our right. For more than two years now, Niger State has been in darkness. Officials of  AEDC promised that there would be steady power supply till December but it has not been so.”

While addressing the protesters in front of the state House of Assembly Complex, the Speaker, Ahmed Marafa, said  power outages in the state had affected all sectors and that the demands of the protesters would be looked into.

“It is unimaginable for a state like Niger that houses three hydro power stations to be in want of power supply”, Marafa stated.

In Aguda area of Surulere, Lagos, a resident, Mrs Toyin Awolowo, was seen lamenting how she was going to celebrate the Yuletide in darkness since there was no sign the DISCO covering the area would supply electricity.  Awolowo’s pessimism may not be an exeggeration after all because information even from official quarters suggests that the power situation in the country, especially in 2016, was precarious. For instance, Transmission Company of Nigeria’s (TCN) generation report disclosed that the nation witnessed total system collapse on June 28, 2016 and partial collapse on July 10. Overall, in 2016, the power grid collapsed 22 times – 16 total and five partial – up from 13 and 10 in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Festive season report

Meanwhile, the TCN, on Wednesday, reportedly  wheeled out about 3,959 megawatts of generated electricity to the 11 distribution companies.“The News Agency of Nigeria reported that power generation data is obtained from daily forecast on the Nigerian Electricity System Operator 50 website.

The daily power statistics posted by SO, a section of the TCN, showed that power generation gradually improved during the festive season with a peak generation of 3,959 megawatts from the national grid. According to the website, the country’s power generation also recorded its lowest generation of 3,366 megawatts within the same period.“The  Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry operational (NESI)  report for January 3 also said, the power sector hit a peak generation of 4,959 megawatts as against 3,321 megawatts recorded on December  2. NESI, a subsidiary of the TCN, said the sector recorded highest system frequency of 51.52Hz and lowest system frequency of 48.85 Hz. It also said the highest voltage recorded was 372KV, while lowest voltage recorded on the same day was 300KV. Separately, NESI, on January 3, disclosed that over N534 billion of revenue was lost by the power sector in 2016. Among the reasons for the loss are shortages in gas supply, frequency and line limitations and water levels management constraints that led to several cases of electricity outage in the country.

NESI, which put the average daily revenue loss at N1.5 billion, said gas constraint remained one of the major challenges facing the electricity sector.“It explained that the N534 billion amounts to the value of electricity lost on account of the challenges, part of which could have been used to bridge the liquidity gap in the power sector, estimated at N1trillion.

Already, the sector is finding it difficult to access more loans from Nigerian banks due to their inability to meet the payment obligations for previous debts.“The situation will also affect the capacity of the power firms to improve on electricity supply to consumers for domestic and industrial uses.“NESI said in its daily statistics on energy losses that the industry lost N1.525 billion on December 24, 2016 alone.“It also disclosed that about 12 power stations could not produce electricity during off-peak period under the review.“Statistics from the National Control Centre,

Osogbo showed that Afam IV-V, Geregu Gas, Alaoji National Integrated Power Project, Olorunsogo Gas, Odukpani NIPP, Okpai, Ibom Power, ASCO, AES, Omoku, Rivers NIPP and Gbarain power plants could not produce a single megawatt on December 25, 2016.“Nigeria has installed power output of 11,165mw, of which the 12 plants have a combined capacity of 2,035mw

The growing feeling is that the privatization of the assets of PHCN was nothing but a fraud  to the detriment of consumers. And the feeling is justifiable.

Power supply, so frustrating
Three years after the privatisation, Nigerians have not seen the promised  benefits of the  private sector’ to take-over of the distribution and generation of power.To compound the situation,  the mind-boggling funds  have been suck into the sector with nothing to show for it. Amid the appalling power supply, many consumers are disturbed by inadequate meters and the crazy billing system in the name of estimated bills.

In fact, the billing system and poor metering by the DISCOs have forced many consumers to doubt the wisdom behind the privatisation of the power sector.

According to Amos Simon, the Chairman, Palmgrove Housing Estate, Lagos, the objective of  privatising the power sector has been subverted by the new owners. He believed that the new  power sector operators are only interested in making money through crazy bills than metering electricity consumers.
Simon expressed regret that the Credit Advance Payment for Metering Implementation, CAPMI, a metering intervention programme introduced in 2014 by the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, has been stopped by the new  operators. “CAPMI is meant to enhance revenue generation as well as reduce revenue losses by operators.

Many Nigerians are now regretting that they supported the government when the plan was being sold to the people. The existing regulations provided that consumers should not pay for meters as it was to be supplied free of charge by electricity distributors and paid for on monthly basis. The paucity of funds, which militated against adequate procurement of the facility by DISCOs, forced the

 
Theodora Orji, the Managing Director, Treasureland Water, Ikoyi, described the estimated billing system as a fraud. Orji accused the DISCOs of extorting consumers in spite of poor service delivery and suggested that the only way out is for government to sanction them. According to her, consumers are also complaining that in spite of erratic power supply, they are still meant to pay for transformers.

To Tajudeen Bamidele, Chairman, Prestige Printing Press, Somolu, Lagos, NERC should begin to sanction DISCOs which fail to provide meters for customers who had paid for them under the CAPMI scheme.

According to him, metering is important to the success of the privatisation of the electricity industry, particularly as it is to address the problem of estimated billing and protect the interests of the DISCOs against revenue losses.

“It is however imperative for the DISCOs to increase public awareness on metering through aggressive campaigns so that more willing customers can be encouraged. Electricity consumers are not happy about the outrageous bills received from electricity companies in spite of poor power supply since November 2015,” he said. Privatization, a scam, says NUEE Lamenting the developments in the power sector, the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, speaking through its General Secretary, Mr. Joe Ajaero, did not mince words in condemning the privatisation process which he described as a ‘scam’. “Even the so-called bidding process was a scam. Some of the companies that won the bids emerged on the eve of privatisation.

We need to have a holistic review of the process. If it has not worked, what is wrong in cancelling it? “, Ajaero said. The union leader explained that electricity workers in the country had petitioned the Bureau for Public Enterprises, BPE, demanding 10 per cent of government’s remaining 40 per cent share in the DISCOs, as part of an agreement reached during privatisation.

“In line with the privatisation Act, workers were supposed to be allocated 10 per cent. Our lawyer, Femi Falana, has written the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) to demand this. Three years later, nothing has been allocated to workers. Even government that claims to be retaining 40 per cent in the DISCOs has not received one Naira in dividend since the privatisation ended.

It means that government sold 60 per cent, but in the real sense, handed 100 per cent of the distribution companies to investors. This is now the case of the buyer being the seller.    We have to investigate all these things.” Ajaero alleged that the DISCOs and GENCOs have two different accounts. “One is the official account that is always in red which they use to deceive government that they are not making profit.

The unofficial account tells the story of how the operators are smiling to the banks while consumers bear the brunt, paying heavily for power they never consumed”. Labour threatens Separately, the organised labour has petitioned President Mohammadu Buhari, notifying him of the alleged anomalies in the privatization of the defunct PHCN, and the need to address same to avoid industrial unrest. In the petition by NUEE, Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies, SSAEAC, and Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, Electricity Sector, the organised labour did not only highlight the pending issues since the privatization of the assets of the PHCN three years ago, it  also copied the petition to top government officials including the Vice President, President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives.

 

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Power Outage In Nigeria;Who is to be blamed? Another Cogent reason to go Solar

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#Power outage experienced in Port Harcourt and its environs since Monday 16th January 2017– The management of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, PHEDC, has said that the power outage experienced in Port Harcourt and its environs since Monday 16th January 2017, is as a result of a partial system failure from the national grid.

Power Transmission Lines

The company, in a statement by its spokesperson, Mr. John Onyi, explained that there was a fire incident at the Afam-5 Power plant in Oyigbo, Rivers State, limiting loading into the Port Harcourt complex.

PHEDC, in the statement, however, explained that repair work was ongoing to rectify the damage.

“The management of PHED, wishes to inform her numerous customers in Port Harcourt metropolis that the power outage they are experiencing since Monday 16th January 2017 till today is as a result of a partial system failure from the national grid.

“Also, when the grid was restored, there was fire outbreak at Afam 5 resulting into load limitation to Port Harcourt complex,” the company said as it pleaded for the understanding and patience of customers while the repairs lasted..

Likewise, the management of Kaduna Electric, has apologised to the company’s customers in Kaduna, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states for prolonged power outages affecting the states.

A statement by Mr. Abdulazeez Abdullahi, Head, Corporate Communication, said the power outages being experienced across the country is as a result of low generation.

“In the past one week, the power allocation to our company has been hovering around 50megawatts. This is a far cry from the 200-250 megawatts hitherto being allocated to us.

“We sincerely regret the hardship and inconveniences this unfortunate development is causing our esteemed customers. We hope the generation Companies will overcome the challenges confronting them soon and resume full operations,” the company stated in the statement.-Sweetcrude

 

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Creative solutions to old problems

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Problem:

Client lives in a model home in Old Gra Port Harcout. Low energy consumption, low carbon foot print, high ceilings, central air conditioning, no storage water tank and a beautiful full sized swimming full. The house requires power 24/7 for the duct fans to move air and for the faucets / taps to provide water. You can imagine the inconvenience of not having water in the middle of a shower when PHCN takes power.

His Current Solution:

A Sukham 10 kva single phase Inverter and an 80 kva Cat generator. Three phase for the AC condensers and single phase for everything else.

The Sukham was installed by a local company that provided good service but shoddy workmanship. The batteries were about to be replaced for the third time since 2014. The customer was convinced that the problem was the battery and not the inverter and spent over N2,000,000 for 8 Deka batteries. The 8 Dekka batteries were added to his bad batteries and he was getting very poor results. The inverter was dead after 2 hours and the customer was back to running his generator when the grid failed.

Out with the old

Our Solution

A Victron Quattro 8000, a Victron Battery Monitor and some creative programming. We installed the the Victron Quattro and programmed it to meet certain conditions that turned on the generator if PHCN was unavailable and turned off the generator when PHCN returned or the batteries were at full charge.

The system was installed by our tech team led by Kay and the customer is very happy. He can save over 40% on diesel compared to the old system. Next month we will add solar panels to minimize day time use of the generators. Later we will go three phase to allow him to run his AC on solar during the day. The Victron Quattro provided a proper three stage battery charging (extend battery life), twin AC Input that allowed us to connect the grid and generator at the same time and twin AC Output that allowed us to isolate loads at the inverter. The system starts and stops the generator based on actual need (programmed by us to meet how the customer used power) and usage. The customer will install a three phase automatic change over to allow him to take advantage of the times the inverter turns the generator on to power his central air conditioner. We worked closely with the supplier of his generator to design and program this solution.

Creative Solution in Port Harcourt

Do you need creative solutions to your old problems? Call us today and save up to 80% on fuel while maintaining the life style that you have come to expect. Call AWPS Renewable Energy today at +234 1 8881040

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Solar Power Becomes Solution As The Bank of Industry (Bol) launches N1 billion Solar Energy Fund for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises!

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Solar power energy to address the lingering epileptic power supply from the grid system, the Bank of Industry (Bol), at the weekend, launched a N1 billion solar Energy Fund for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

Acting Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Bol, Mr. Waheed Olagunju, stated at the inauguration of the N1 billion solar energy fund that, for Nigeria to achieve sustainable and inclusive development, there is an urgent need to substantially increase the supply of modern and affordable energy services from sources that are affordable, accessible and environmentally friendly.

He explained that the projects will be implemented in collaboration with eight (8) competent solar energy project developers who have been carefully selected through a competitive and transparent process, adding that, will be responsible for implementing the solar projects by providing MSMEs with solar solutions using appropriate business models.

According to him,the utilization of solar energy solutions as against diesel and petrol for powering MSMEs  items and equipment offers long term cost savings,  stressing that, though initial capital outlay may be relatively high.

On the other hand, he said the provision of medium to long term loans to meet the initial capital outlay would drive affordability and flexibility, thereby enhancing productivity of existing MSMEs while also encouraging the establishment of new enterprises.

He disclosed that solar solutions are also faster to deploy and can be installed and commissioned within six months.

‘‘It is important to note at this point that this initiative is in line with the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations which have been adopted by most countries in the world, including Nigeria,’’ he said.

The  initiative, he said, is being replicated in other rural communities in collaboration with its development partners, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and relevant State Governments, which is now being scaled up to provide energy for MSMEs across the country, commencing with the N1 billion Solar Energy Fund.

‘‘ It is because BoI is a well managed emerging world class Development Finance Institution (DFI)  that the Bank is able to come up with highly concessional funding solutions with interest rate as low as 7% and equally flexible terms and conditions.

This also explains why BoI is able to partner with UNDP under which we are able to access increased level of financial support that peaked at $1.2 million last year. Blending the grant with BoI’s debt financing enables us to charge low interest rate,’’ he clarified. 

Prior to the launch of the solar energy fund, he disclosed that the Bank is already playing an active role in Lighting up and powering Nigeria through the provision of solar energy solutions for rural communities, having successfully deployed solar solutions worth N240 million to six (6) off-grid communities, one (1) each in Niger, Osun, Gombe, Anambra, Edo and Kaduna States, under its pilot scheme.    

Olagunju regretted that many Nigerians and Nigerian businesses that can afford other alternative energy sources have resorted to the use of electric generators at exorbitant costs, lamenting that it was estimated that in 2015, manufacturers spent as much as N3.5trillion to generate alternative power due to the challenges in the supply of public electricity.

He equally noted that the cost of electricity accounts for about 40% of operational expenses for most MSMEs, resulting in reduced profit margins, uncompetitive and generally unsustainable ventures.

Consequently, he stated that the performance of the MSME subsector is closely associated with the development of a nation, worrying that the growth of the sector has been hampered over the years by a combination of factors, one of which is access to reliable electricity.-sunnewsonline

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Shattering Stereotypes

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We have been saddled with so many wrong stereotypes about Nigeria and Nigerians. Let us correct a few.

In the late 1980’s Nigerians living in America were associated with fraud. Bank fraud and credit card fraud. Someone at a bank once asked me, “why are Nigerians so fraudulent” and I retorted why are are young Americans so stupid? Today Nigerians in America are held out as the most successful immigrant group. Highest education, highest per capita income and most purchase their homes within a generation. No other immigrant group has that record.

In Nigeria they say we don’t do maintenance. That is incorrect, if we did not we would not have so many road side mechanics. Nigerians are the only people that will be driving a car and the minute they hear a sound or shudder take it to a mechanic. We do the same with doctors. If a cure is not prescribed we assume the doctor or mechanic is fake.

Yes we service what we install. In addition to cleaning the panels, we check the connections to make sure they are tight, we test each individual battery, we test the controller and we test, open and clean the inverters.

Cleaning dirty panels

From the picture above you can see a woman cleaning panels. She is standing on the roof of a two story building. Another stereotype we want to shatter. Woman today do whatever they set their minds to do.The world has women leaders, airline pilots, trailer drivers, CEO’s, engineers and much more. Some day it would not be unusual when we post this image.

Another stereotype. Nigerians do bad work and offer poor customer service. We have had the best artisans, engineers, designers, teachers. Jamaica and many countries had teachers from Nigeria. Nigerian were forming metal before the Europeans knew what that was. Catholic priest from Nigeria are found in parishes in the western world. You go to any hospital in America and if you see a black doctor chances are they are Nigeria. We have mediocre talent out there but there are many more who shine. Seek them and they will come to you. Our team members are instructed to ride God is Good Motors because of their exemplary service. On one trip the vehicle broke down, the driver eventually repaired the vehicle but the passengers lacked confidence in the repairs done and asked to be taken back to Lagos. The customer service team of the company called every passenger that evening and apologized. Asked if they still wanted to travel. They passengers instructed to come back the next morning at 6 am. At 5 am customer service called again to make sure they were coming. They received an apology a refund and a free trip to their destination. That happened in Nigeria. A Nigerian company doing the right thing. (Arik could learn a thing or two from them)

The Competition

The day that you continue to accept work that looks like this is over.

A child hood friend I grew up with died 2 years ago. She was electrocuted in her shower. I am sure that a very competent electrician gave a quote and the job went to someone with less experience and a lower price. After all are they not only joining wire? Are they now? Same thing happens when you purchase solar power. Too many people choose price over expertise and they bad mouth solar and not the installation. We charge for installation and we charge a good fee for it. We also charge for an installation kit. In the installation kits is a 6 ft earth rod, ac and DC breakers, bus bars, a change over, a combiner box, quality welding cable and much more.  That is what protects your investment and appliances from surges. In Sparklight Estate in Magboro last November, most of the solar power systems installed there failed after a rain storm. Our did not. Why? That is what protects your investment during a rain storm. We do so much during an installation that the finished product looks like something out of a factory.

Installation in Progress

We hope that now that you know more, you can make better choices and enjoy solar as it was designed to be enjoyed.

I leave you with this quote. “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” – Benjamin Franklin

AWPS Renewable Energy, LTD Nigeria’s #1 provider of premium solar power. Call today +234 1 8881040

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Solar Power Energy; Is Nigeria doing better than Kenya?

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Solar power: Kenya prepares to expand solar mini-grids into poorest rural areas

$150 million plan would light up markets, schools, shops and homes, and support solar-powered water pumping.

Women from Kenya benefit from a solar-powered pump to water tomato plants throughout the year without relying on erratic rainfall, enabling them to feed their families. Kenya is preparing to bring solar electricity to hundreds of poor, off-grid areas this year. Image

Kenya plans to launch a $150 million project this year to bring solar electricity to markets, schools, shops and homes in poor, off-grid areas without existing power access, officials say.

The effort, expected to receive World Bank funding in March, would bring mini-grid solar plants to areas of 14 counties categorised by Kenya’s government as marginalised, according to World Bank documents.

Such off-grid systems are the cleanest and most cost effective way to bring electrical power to poor areas, particularly those sparsely populated, Kenyan officials said.

“Solar photovoltaics and mini-grids are the most effective way of supplying power to settlements with 300-400 inhabitants, and Kenya is one of the best prepared countries in Africa in providing such solutions,” said Pavel Oimeke, the director of renewable energy at Kenya’s Energy Regulatory Commission.

The country has more than 400 registered companies that can fulfil solar energy contracts, and more than 300 technicians trained and approved by the government to support the systems, Oimeke said.

Solar photovoltaics and mini-grids are the most effective way of supplying power to settlements with 300-400 inhabitants, and Kenya is one of the best prepared countries in Africa in providing such solutions.

Under the new project, solar mini-grids would be used to supply market centres, community facilities, and some households, according to planning documents.  In more isolated areas, households would be equipped with home solar systems. New solar power capacity also would be used to pump water to supply homes and fields.

“Evidence suggests that PV (photovoltaic) powered water pumping significantly reduces the cost of water extraction through lower operational and maintenance costs,” a World Bank project document noted.

As part of the planned project, schools would get new solar-powered borehole wells while some communities would be equipped with water systems powered by solar pumps. Existing diesel-powered pumping systems would be retrofitted with hybrid solar systems, according to planning documents.

The plan also provides for technical assistance and training to help make the scheme more sustainable.

Rabia Ferroukhi, head of policy at the International Renewable Energy Agency, an intergovernmental organisation based in Abu Dhabi, said in an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation that she believes the time has come for a paradigm shift in how off-grid systems are deployed, focusing less on power generation and more on using them to support jobs and incomes.

That would help them make a greater contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development goals, she said.

Using solar electricity to power irrigation pumps, process harvests and create cold storage could transform rural lives by providing better crop yields, higher incomes and a reduction in drudge work, she said.

“By linking mini-grid supply with productive uses such as agriculture, rural industries, market centres (and) schools, the socio-economic impacts can be maximized which in turn improves the ability of consumers to afford energy supply,” Ferroukhi said.-news.trust.org/climate

 

 

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