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Plug&Sun CPV system powers up remote Madagascan village


October 22, 2013

A CPV system brings electricity to Madagascar villagers

A CPV system brings electricity to Madagascar villagers

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Fondation Énergies pour le Monde (Energy for the World Foundation), an organization that promotes clean energy in developing countries, has completed the installation of a concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) system in Ambondro, southern Madagascar. The CPV system was also combined with existing wind turbines in the village, with project partner Sunidarity claiming it is the first decentralized rural electrification operation of its kind in Madagascar.

Sunidarity is an initiative that gives support to projects based on fairness and sustainability. It was founded by semiconductor specialist Soitec, which in 2011 launched a system called Plug&Sun.; This is a modular, mobile, easy-to-install CPV system that is designed to bring electricity to remote, off-the-grid regions.

Concentrating photovoltaics magnify sunlight before it reaches the cells that convert it into electricity. Soitec’s CPV’s technology uses Fresnel lenses that concentrate sunlight 500 times. The company claims its technology achieves a module efficiency of 30 percent, which is roughly twice that of standard silicon PV modules.

The system installed in Madagascar comprises two trackers capable of generating a combined 2.28 kWp (peak power under full solar radiation) for a total of up to 12 kWh per day. Each tracker is made up of 12 CPV modules with a total surface area of 4.2 sq m (13.8 sq ft) and an integrated battery system allows the electricity produced during the day to be stored for later use.

Plug&Sun;'s design ensures sunlight is harvested throughout the day, with continuous energy generation. Soitec adds it has kept the system deliberately simple and practical so it can be easily adapted to places like Ambondro. It only takes a few hours to install, and is compatible with different electrical standards. The goal is to improve the lives of people in such areas by giving them access to income-generating activities without having to rely on fossil fuels.

To add extra reliability, Fondation Énergies pour le Monde has combined the Plug&Sun; trackers with two wind turbines that were installed back in 2010. When the CPV technology was installed, a Soitec technician provided assistance in assembling the CPV systems on site and connecting them to the existing power system, while also training local technical personnel in maintenance and servicing of the technology.

"The installation of a hybrid wind–solar system is a first, important step," says Yves Maigne, director of Fondation Énergies pour le Monde. "Within a year, we will have sufficient feedback to be able to evaluate the system’s operation. That will help us decide on the use of Plug&Sun; for eight other Malagasy villages already identified by our Foundation."

Source: Sunidarity/Soitec

About the Author
Antonio Pasolini Brazilian-Italian Antonio Pasolini graduated in journalism in Brazil before heading out to London for an MA in film and television studies. He fell in love with the city and spent 13 years there as a film reviewer before settling back in Brazil. Antonio's passion for green issues - and the outdoors - eventually got the best of him and since 2007 he's been writing about alternative energy, sustainability and new technology. All articles by Antonio Pasolini

Funniest comment I just got over my shoulder from a friend here: "But two kilowatts, that's just like my little Honda generator"...awgh...yes. True.

Just like your Honda box, but running for the next ...20?...years without oil change or spare parts, whenever there is light, without any bit of noise, and without anyone having to bring any fuel, ever, to wherever this will be used. Even while being kind of like a little portable generator, it really is not. This is photovoltaics. Another word for awesome. Have it on my roof, and love it.


Solar; the most wasted clean, natural resource.

Jay Finke

Well said BeWalt !


Is this thing for sale? Looks interesting for remote locations in the states that are off grid....

Jahnets Sullins

What technology is it that it works and is affordable to those in southern Madagasca, when it some how won't be available anywhere in the US. We been reading for years now of all these game changers designed for totally remote third world outback power. There is no freaking market or real need there. There's no TV, no internet, no factories. When will they be had in any town, first world locations. That's where there are people saying "where can I buy this" and get off the grid or at least get some kilowatts from my roof to lower my electric bill. How many millions who want this but it not available. Your mak'in me crazy.


scoring just 135th in HDI and $933 GDP PPP per capita, Madagascar may offer a few troubles for the project to survive long enough

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