Green Business Area
Konseguela, Region of Sikasso, Mali
Completed in 2016
Protecting the environment and limiting climate change and its consequences whilst also improving living conditions for the poorest: These are the challenges that GERES seeks to tackle through development engineering and specialist technical expertise. Energy efficiency, renewable energy and local economic development are at the heart of GERES activities.
Providing rural electrification with solar solutions to small businesses requires a specific design adapted towards the businesses’ electrical equipment. The impact of the use of this equipment on an isolated mini-grid has to be diagnosed and assessed before providing a localised solution to meet the electricity needs of small businesses. Therefore, the need for a “Green Business Area” that is complimentary to the existing solution for household electrification.
In South-East Mali, renewable energy is limited to solar photovoltaics and, in the case of existing agricultural sector, biomass (e.g. biofuel). With a solar plant, diurnal consumption is most efficient and rural businesses are able to operate during the day. There are adapted end-users to this kind of energy. Lastly, solar biofuel hybrid solutions are adapted to predictable changes in consumption.
The “Green Business Area” is an innovative solution to develop electricity access through renewable energy for landlocked territories. By grouping 11 local rural businesses on a dedicated site equipped with a mini-grid and a generation capacity of 12.5 kWp, providing productive energy users with a high quality and electrical service becomes a reality. The technology is based on a 100% renewable energy mix, through a photovoltaic system and a generator burning agro fuels produced locally. Thus, rural businesses eliminate their dependence on fossil fuels. Built on the principles of bioclimatic construction (in partnership with the organisation Nubian Vault), the site offers tenants comfortable working conditions for the Sahel.
The project approach includes support for businesses that use electricity, and support for local authorities to understand energy access challenges and then to define their role.
The total project cost must be divided into three parts. The first part is the concrete project investment. The second is the support provided to rural businesses and to local authorities. The third part, specific to this first pilot project, corresponds to the research, monitoring and evaluation of the solution.
The pricing model integrates both the rental of the bioclimatic spaces, and the sale of the energy. Due to the use of solar PV, the price of electricity is higher during the night than during the day. Rural businesses require dependable high-quality electricity (power, voltage, schedule), and are willing to accept the corresponding price as in most instances they are capable of paying the actual cost of the electricity.
The “Green Business Area” is an opportunity for people to access products and services previously non-existent, inaccessible, or too costly, such as a bakery, refrigeration services or community radio. It has a significant impact on local employment (7 rural businesses, 24 direct jobs at the end of the first year of operation) and an impact on improving the living conditions of the area’s population.
In Mali, Senegal and Benin, GERES is already working on replicating this model. Discussions with national authorities and rural electrification operators aim to integrate “Green Business Area” projects into their programmes or service offers.