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Case study 17 October, 2018 HybridSolar PV Micro/Mini-grid

Ensol – 50 kW Solar Hybrid Electrification (Tanzania)

Who, What & Where

  • Ensol in partnership with Trama TecnoAmbiental of Spain
  • 50 kW Solar Hybrid Electrification
  • Mpale village, Korogwe, Tanga (Tanzania)

The Company

Ensol imports, supplies, installs and maintains solar PV products and systems of different sizes in the local market. In partnership with Trama TecnoAmbiental (TTA) from Spain and Studer Innotec from Switzerland, Ensol successfully commissioned a 48kW solar hybrid mini-grid. The project was chosen as “Best Off-Grid Project” at the Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE) 2018 Awards.

The Challenge

Since its establishment in 1972, the 3,000 residents of Mpale village have never accessed electricity despite being a vibrant village. Kerosene was their main fuel source for lighting while biomass was the main energy source for cooking. The need for electricity was vivid from economic activities already existing in the village like milling, carpentry and small shops and tea shops

Renewable Solution

The project deployed a 48 kW solar hybrid mini-grid that generates AC 3-phase electricity via a 5 km low voltage distribution line. High quality deep cycle batteries provide 265 kWh storage capacity, together with a 50 kVA back-up genset to guarantee 24/7 uninterrupted service to customers. Three people from the locality, two operators and one administrator are permanently working for the project on operation and maintenance along with customer relation issues. An Electricity Committee with representatives from the village subsections has been formed and is instrumental in connecting the project with the community.

Project Financing and Costs

Out of the total project investment of EUR 418,000, 63% was financed by the Energy and Environment Partnership Program (EEP), 22% by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the remaining 15% by Ensol itself. The project has now qualified for the Result Based Financing programme administered by the Tanzanian Rural Energy Agency (REA) and will be awarded USD 125,000 upon fulfilment of the intended 250 connections. Service-level cost-reflective tariffs were designed and after lengthy negotiations and engagement with the community, flat-rate prepaid monthly tariffs were applied. An average customer pays USD 5 per month for a consumption of up to 10 kWh per month. Payback is expected after seven years although this could take longer due to the slowness of customers to connect.

Project Outcome

Out of the 250 targeted connections, 102 customers have already connected. This includes the establishment of more than 30 new businesses due to availability of electricity. A health facility can now offer uninterrupted service and effective diagnosis of diseases. Direct and indirect employment opportunities have arisen, with women also more engaged in economic activities. The concept will be replicated to 15 villages that have already been identified, provided Ensol USD 5 million in investment can be raised.