Hybrid solutions key for Africa’s energy growth

19th July 2017 By: Anine Kilian - Contributing Editor Online

Solar photovoltaic (PV) hybrid technology is fast becoming a cost- and energy efficient solution for remote locations throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

There is huge demand for electricity across the continent; however, poor and unreliable grid infrastructure is becoming a major challenge for quality electricity supply, said renewable power supply manufacturer and engineering and procurement contractor juwi Renewable Energies business development manager Monya Bassingthwaighte at the PowerGen Africa conference, in Sandton, on Wednesday.

She pointed out that hybrid and offgrid business models were starting to gain significant traction, and added that juwi had been approached to quote for over 2 GW of utility-scale grid-connected projects outside of South Africa in the last 24 months.

“Hybrid solutions make sense because, going further north into the continent, there isn’t a sophisticated, strong grid outside of South Africa,” she said.

Cost-effective hybrid solutions include PV connected to diesel or heavy-fuel operations. Such solutions ensure energy supply security, improved quality and better monitoring analysis.

Bassingthwaighte added that many mines and industrial companies, for example, have to rely on diesel and heavy fuel oil in offgrid locations, noting that hybrid technology created an opportunity because the local grid would most likely not expand fast enough.

“With the rapid decrease in PV prices, there are definite cost and technical benefits supporting the uptake of hybrid solutions,” she said.

“Benefits of hybrid solutions include energy supply security, improved quality and better monitoring analysis.”