Schneider Electric, specialist in the digital transformation of energy management and automation, recently during the Global Off-grid solar (Gogla) expo 2020 at Safaripark Hotel Nairobi, unveiled the latest version of its award-winning software EcoStruxure in East Africa.
Driven by the imperative to offer a better life to people living in remote areas and to promote sustainable agriculture, the number of microgrid projects is growing fast. Schneider Electric, is a leader in digital transformation of energy management and automation, helps communities maximize efficiency and profitability thanks to the recently unveiled EcoStruxure™ for Energy Access, a comprehensive metering, analytics and reporting solution for microgrid projects.
“The unveiled EcoStruxure for Energy Access is the latest addition to the offerings from Schneider Electric’s Access to Energy program. It will scale-up sustainable off-grid electrification thanks to its simple, flexible and open architecture and easy to access analytics and reporting,” says Olivier Jacquet, Vice President Access to Energy, Middle East and Africa at Schneider Electric.
The system offers customers an affordable, flexible and open architecture, and platform that improves profitability and efficiency of off-grid installations with data-driven analysis.
The potential is huge, and Schneider Electric has already installed 350+ picogrids (<4kWp) and 600+ microgrids in off-grid areas worldwide, equivalent to 23,5+ MWp over the past four years.
Building on Schneider Electric’s Villaya range of affordable solar products including lanterns, street lights, water pumps, home systems, containerized mobile solar emergency and community microgrid solutions, EcoStruxure™ for Energy Access brings on board the EcoStruxure™ Energy Access Advisor and EcoStruxure™ Energy Access Expert to:
- Monitor site performance, and report end user load balance and energy credit in real time, while giving trend data to improve operational efficiency;
- Allow scalability and evolution of pico-grids, upselling of relevant offers, and customization of business models as the amount of available energy grows.
Schneider Electric is committed to contributing to the SDGs through its core business and its five sustainability megatrends: Climate, Circular economy, Ethics, Health & Equity and Development.
“At Schneider Electric, our role is to make sure that ‘Life is On’ for everyone, everywhere, at every moment. As such, sustainability is at the heart of our company strategy,” says Edouard Heripret, General Manager, East Africa at Schneider Electric. Through its Access to Energy program, Schneider Electric wants to play a major role in helping underserved people to gain access to electricity.
Between 2009 and 2019, Schneider Electric has provided energy access solutions to more than 25 million people, invested in 20 companies, trained more than 250,000 people and supported more than 700 entrepreneurs. It aims to have 80 million people with electricity by 2030, 1 million people trained, and 10,000 entrepreneurs supported by 2025.
According to IEA 2017 World Energy Access Outlook, microgrids are the most cost-effective way to expand energy access in remote areas. The IEA also predicts that by 2030, between 30% and 40% of people in developing countries will be powered by microgrids, fueled by renewable energy sources such as solar. However, the available energy – at least initially – only allows access to basic services such as mobile phone charging and LED lighting, while end-users often earn less than US $1.50 a day. Precise load management and metering, as well as real-time monitoring and analytics, are needed to maximize the efficiency of these projects, and to guarantee that they can thrive and grow.
EcoStruxure at the heart of Uganda microgrid project
EcoStruxure™ for Energy Access has already been demonstrated on a Villaya microgrid project in partnership with global organization Mercy Corps at their field office in Kaabong, north east Uganda. Kaabong is a semi-arid region where many households are without electricity, relying mainly on kerosene lamps for lighting.
Due to unreliable electricity, Mercy Corps’ operations were hampered by an erratic power supply and cost generator expenses. The Villaya microgrid was designed and built to withstand harsh environments for many years, and was installed in Kaabong. Together with a remote monitoring solution, the system will be able to provide both real time and historical data for analysis and troubleshooting.
The microgrid is now providing reliable, clean and safe energy to Mercy Corps’ office, with a cost saving of $2,000 per month. Importantly, the project has resulted in zero CO2 emissions at Kaabong since installation, which is a monthly CO2 saving of 1,150 tonnes compared with genset use emissions.
The Ecostruxure for Energy Access platform gives both Mercy Corps and Schneider Electric a clear view of real-time and historical microgrid performance, energy consumption and reporting analytics, allowing pro-active financial and operations planning to be carried out leading to a high degree of autonomy and overall peace of mind.