Home Presse AGT Launches Pilot Project in Madagascar

Africa GreenTec Installs First Mini-Grid Project With 100 % Renewable Energy Throughout Madagascar

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At the UN Climate Change Conference, there was a lot of talk about the effects of climate change. Regions in sub-Saharan Africa in particular are already severely affected. However, urgently needed concrete measures to meet the 1.5 degree target and achieve climate justice were missed by many at the conference. The German-African social enterprise Africa GreenTec shows how to tackle the problems on the ground with innovative solar-powered solutions. Successfully implemented projects in Mali, Niger and Senegal were followed by the commissioning of the pilot project in Madagascar at the end of July 2022.

Africa GreenTec has built one of its so-called ImpactSites® in Madagascar, which been supplying the 6500-inhabitant community of Mahavelona in the Itasy region with solar energy ever since. This project is not only a milestone for the social enterprise and its partner Polarstern Energie, but also for the country of Madagascar itself. This is because the solar park with battery storage is the first mini-grid project in the whole of Madagascar to be powered 100% by renewable energy.

This ImpactSite is a novelty for both the island nation and the social enterprise Africa GreenTec, as it also differs from the other ImpactSites implemented so far. Due to the size and location of the Mahavelona community, a 120 kWp ground-mounted PV system was installed instead of the containerized Solartainer® developed by the company.

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An intelligent network distributes solar energy via a prepaid tariff system and enables data analysis and remote maintenance. Each household has its own connection including an intelligent electricity meter, a so-called smart meter, which receives and sends data and measures and controls the flow of electricity in real time. This ensures a reliable prepaid payment system and each customer pays only for the electricity they use.

Unlike other solar providers in Madagascar, Africa GreenTec relies 100% on renewable energy and does not use a diesel generator as backup, but a battery storage system. Thanks to the lithium-ion battery storage, energy is available even in the evening hours and during heavy cloud cover. The storage is located in a building next to the solar farm and is adapted to the warm climate and conditions in the Global South, it is equipped with a specially developed cooling system.

The ImpactSite was officially inaugurated in early October in the presence of the Minister of Energy of Madagascar. In his opening speech, he said:

Andry Heriniaina Ramaroson, Minister für Energie und Kohlenwasserstoffe Madagaskar
As an engineer, I am convinced and impressed by the quality of this infrastructural project. Therefore, on behalf of the State and the President of the Republic, I congratulate you (Africa GreenTec) for this great work. Thank you very much! You are real role models for this and future generations.
Andry Heriniaina Ramaroson, Minister of Energy and Hydrocarbons Madagascar

Since July of this year, Mahavelona has had an electricity grid and a reliable and sustainable power supply for the first time in its history. This benefits not only private households, but above all small businesses and public institutions such as schools, the local infirmary and the police station. Previously, the streets were unlit and the day ended after sunset. Thanks to the StreetUPs developed by Africa GreenTec – self-sufficient and 100% solar-powered street lighting – Mahavelona is now brightly lit in the evening.

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Electricity is changing the lives of every single person in our community. Our ability to start our own businesses, our health and quality of life, and safety throughout the village have all increased immensely. The street lighting alone gives us, and especially the women in the village, a great sense of security. Before Africa GreenTec started the project, we felt like we were constantly living in the dark. We have all been empowered by the power supply.

Mrs. Nivoarilalanjatovo, Mayor Mahavelona, Madagaskar

Previously, diesel generators were the only way to use electricity productively. These are not only bad for the environment, but also expensive and unreliable. The old generators often break down, the diesel has to be transported over long distances on bad roads to the village and is therefore not always available. With these incalculable costs, it is hardly possible to build a profitable business.

Affordable and reliable electricity opens up completely new economic perspectives for the people of Mahavelona. The first businesses, such as welding stores, have switched to efficient electrical equipment, and the first farmer in the village has also bought a new rice husking machine with electric drive and got rid of his diesel generator with the help of Africa GreenTec. The first hair salon has opened, and the local small cinema can now show movies in the evenings. Numerous small stores can now operate refrigerators and freezers and thus offer chilled drinks and ice cream.

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The solar power supply opens up many opportunities for the villagers to improve their living conditions individually and as a community. It expands educational opportunities, reduces the use of diesel generators, and initiates economic development that puts more local people to work, strengthens purchasing power, and combats the causes of migration. In short, it makes dreams for the future tangible. For us, the solar power supply of the village Mahavelona is the perfect example when we at Polarstern talk about the goal: To change the world with energy. For real.
Florian Henle, Founder and Managing Director Polarstern GmbH
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Africa GreenTec's work does not stop here. Sustainability is in the DNA of the social enterprise, and an important factor here is the long-term fault-free operation of the ImpactSites. That is why Africa GreenTec employs four local staff in Mahavelona alone to operate and maintain the system on a permanent basis. Gradually, more and more customers will be connected to the network, and further services such as a water purification plant are also being planned. However, Africa GreenTec's plans also extend beyond Mahavelona. The next six ImpactSites are already being planned. Moritz Brauchle, Managing Director – AGT Madagascar, says:

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The first project is always a very special one. All beginnings are difficult, but the work is worth it. We couldn't have asked for a better place than Mahavelona. But Mahavelona is just the beginning. We look forward to working with the Ministry of Energy, ADER and ORE to implement many more projects as quickly as possible in the future and make Madagascar a model for renewable energy.

But it's not just in Madagascar that Africa GreenTec has big visions. By 2030, the social enterprise wants to supply a total of three million people in Africa with energy and save 1.2 million tons of CO2. The projects are financed, among other things, with the help of crowdinvesting: instead of donating to the project, people invest. The mission is well received: In the current crowdinvesting round, around 550 people are already participating, who together have so far provided over 1.3 million euros in investment assets. On the one hand, investors have the opportunity to profit from the growing market for sustainable energy solutions. On the other hand, they can enable more self-determination and economic growth for residents in villages like Mahavelona.

Madagaskar
November 2022