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Region: Africa

Schneider Electric signs an MoU with Nigerian energy firm

The initiative with EM-ONE Energy Solutions will see Schneider develop a mini-grid industry, involving decentralised electricity generation and distribution networks based on renewable energy

DUBAI, UAE, 15 July, 2019: Schneider Electric on July 14 signed an MoU with Nigerian sustainable energy engineering firm, EM-ONE Energy Solutions towards developing an African mini-grid industry, involving decentralised electricity generation and distribution networks based on renewable energy, the company said through a Press communiqué.

With a population of more than 200 million, Nigeria comprises 36 states, only one of which has an electricity network, the communiqué said. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), West Africa’s energy consumption could quadruple by 2030 to reach 219 TWh a year, less than half of the 478 TWh already consumed in France in 2018. Part of the solution will come from mini-grids, which are decentralised networks powered by photovoltaic energy, the communiqué said. Demand is high – an estimated 200,000 mini-grids are required to power the continent of Africa and reach the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7 (“Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”), the communiqué said.

Schneider Electric, which produces mini-grids at its factory in Kenya, has decided to take its efforts to the next level, the communiqué said. “Rather than importing mini-grids produced in Europe, Asia or North America, we want to create an African mini-grid industry with operators, integrators, investors and local jobs,” the communiqué quoted Paul-François Cattier, Schneider Electric’s Vice President Business Development Africa & Middle East, as saying. In the past 10 years, the company has already installed 700 mini-grids in Africa, mainly for rural electrification, through its Access to Energy programme, the communiqué said. This has largely been achieved with donations to NGOs and equipment often produced in Europe, the communiqué added.

For 18 months, led by its sustainability department, the company has been working to set up an industry based on mini-grids, built or operated by local stakeholders, the communiqué said. This has led to the MoU with EM-ONE Energy Solutions. “EM-ONE Energy Solutions has already won a contract for 30 mini-grids in Nigeria to power hospitals in Kaduna State and is also targeting the university and rural electrification market,” Cattier said. “The MoU concerns Schneider’s support with optimizing the architecture of these projects and developing an industrial platform to integrate these mini-grids into containers in Nigeria and manufacture Schneider Electric mini-grid solutions under license.” With 12 sales representatives spread out over 12 countries, including Chad, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Tanzania, Schneider Electric is seeking engineering procurement construction (EPC) companies to locally produce its solutions, the communiqué said. Villaya Community, a mini-grid designed for rural electrification, and providing 7-63 kW of power, is an example, the communiqué said. Schneider will provide the EPC companies with advice on setting up an industrial plant and testing, the communiqué said. Schneider is also working with public- and private-funding bodies, the communiqué  said, adding that the company intends to cover the full range of needs with capacities up to 500 kW – enough to power a city of 10,000 inhabitants in Africa – through its standardised solutions, and from 500 kW to 20 MW through specific architectures for cities of several hundred thousand inhabitants that are without an electricity grid.

“Africa today is comparable to China, 40 years ago,” Cattier said. “In 2050, it will account for 30% of the global population, according to the United Nations, and could be one of the world’s top five economic powers by 2050.” The potential for electrification is enormous, the communiqué  said, not only in rural areas but also for companies who would like their own reliable electricity grid, including banks and their network of agencies and cash dispensers, food and beverage manufacturers, data centres and even electricity providers that currently use power generators and need to switch to hybrid energy production with mini-grids.

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