In Madagascar, a nation of 28 million people, only 15 percent of residents are connected to electricity. In rural parts of the country, connectivity is only 4 percent. When Madagascar launched an initiative to supply power to 100 rural villages for the first time, local Cat® dealer Henri Fraise Fils & Cie was a key part of the solution.
There were once only two ways rural villagers could access power: using a home solar system, which meant replacing a poor-quality, lead-acid battery every two years; or using small generators, which required spending an entire day retrieving fuel and oil by bush taxi. In the village of Belobaka, a new solar microgrid installation has all but eliminated the need for these approaches. It provides 83 kW of power at peak operation and has a 315 kW battery with a 110 kVA generator set for backup. This system has the potential to provide power to 5,000 people and 800 homes.
Despite challenges, including an intense rainy season and unreliable roads surrounding the project site, the team completed the microgrid in an impressive five months. The new grid measures 4 square kilometers and consists of 720 photovoltaic panels and 16 battery cabinets. It was essential that the state-of-the-art microgrid solutions be offered at an affordable rate for villagers. A grant from the U.S. Trade and Development Agency helped support the project, and Caterpillar, Henri Fraise and battery supplier Fluidic Energy worked together to develop a low-cost solution, allowing as many people as possible to get connected.
“I am proud to be part of this important project and am excited about the potential of bringing electricity to many more villages. Rural electrification is not easy. But when you see all the children smiling and happy to see you helping their village, it’s a good feeling.”
ERIC BILLET, DIRECTOR OF NEW BUSINESS IN RENEWABLE
ENERGY, HENRI FRAISE FILS AND CIE