Solar energy : Expertise in all photovoltaics applications

The drop in photovoltaic prices combined with advances in electronics offers new prospects for deploying this renewable resource, which has the advantage of being present everywhere albeit in varying intensities. Photovoltaic energy can be used to boost electricity generation capacities through ground-mounted photovoltaic power plants connected to the grid, or to generate power for the sole supply of a specific household or community. Panels can be fitted to roofs or walls for more dispersed electricity generation.

IED's know-how in the area of solar photovoltaic energy covers all of these fields of application.

In Cambodia, IED supervised the installation of 15,000 individual solar kits in several hundred remote villages, with the villagers making a monthly payment for a period of 4 years. Our teams took care of the after-sales service and achieved the feat of reaching a collection rate of over 98%.

Strategic, feasibility and detailed engineering studies regarding photovoltaic (PV) plants

Our expertise ranges from the study of plants connected to a grid with a capacity of several MW to the study of remote mini-grids with a capacity of a few dozen kW.
Nationwide scoping studies to select the locations of the plants and their design, through a geographical analysis of needs and an audit of existing grids, taking into account the typical project characteristics of low operating costs and high investment costs.
Technical feasibility studies: Adding intermittent solar generation to an electricity system must not disrupt grid stability.

As an example, in Burkina Faso in 2010, IED analysed the relevance and potential of photovoltaic power injected into the interconnected network and isolated grids. This study made it possible to identify the priority sites, validate the economic and financial benefits of setting up PV plants, and determine the cost of production per kilowatt-hour. As a result of this study, SONABEL, the national electricity company of Burkina Faso, chose to set up a 22 MWp solar plant in Ouagadougou, and several mini-grid structures of less than 300 kW were identified.

Project design and construction supervision

 Engineering studies (design, calculation of output, grid connection method),
 Preparation of invitations to tender: drafting of technical recommendations, drafting of tender documents, tender analysis
 Supervision and monitoring of works.

In 2012, IED carried out engineering studies for 6 hybrid PV/diesel plants on behalf of ADER, the agency in charge of developing rural electrification in Mauritania, and also drafted related tender documents. In Burkina Faso in 2011, SONABEL tasked IED with the engineering studies and design for its plant in Zagtouli (22 MWp near Ouagadougou).

Specific expertise in hybrid PV/diesel plants

Having witnessed the evolution of technical solutions for decentralised rural electrification over more than 20 years, IED has positioned itself strongly, since 2009, in the field of hybrid technologies combining diesel systems with renewable energy available locally. Hybridization offers comparative advantages which explain the technology's current rise in popularity.

IED has developed extensive expertise in the particularities involved in designing and implementing hybrid systems.

Since 2010 we have conducted engineering studies and prepared tender documents for more than a dozen hybrid PV/diesel plants ranging from 20 to 100 kWp, in West Africa, Madagascar and Cambodia.

Management and assessment of electrification programmes using stand-alone solar systems

Small photovoltaic systems enable us to supply a basic electricity service to remote populations in developing regions. These solutions include:

 Portable systems (pico PV) which provide modular services ranging from portable lighting solutions to systems delivering several services such as mobile phone charging, radio and ventilation, thanks to energy-efficient equipment. We contribute to strategic thinking on the subject (publications are available for download in our Documents and Links section) and to spreading the use of such systems, particularly in Cambodia.

 Solar home systems: IED has been positioned on the market for these solutions for over 20 years and participated in designing the very first projects financed by the World Bank in Indonesia. More recently, IED oversaw programmes involving 15,000 solar systems in Cambodia, from customer selection to installation supervision, system maintenance, and payment collection. Collection rates of more than 85% were achieved.

 Community systems which provide services such as pumping of drinking water, lighting and refrigeration in dispensaries, street lighting, etc.

We were very heavily involved in the Regional Solar Programme which involved the installation of 626 drinking water supply systems using solar pumping, and 660 community systems distributed across the 9 countries in the region (Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Chad). More recently, we organised the design, installation and commissioning of community systems in 55 villages and towns in Cameroon.

Photovoltaics is a versatile technology that offers very interesting prospects, as it can be integrated into the urban built environment.

IED has been interested in this technology since its very beginnings with the EU-funded HIP HIP programme, and has positioned itself as a player in medium-sized cities undergoing rapid growth in Africa and Asia.