Work System

Work System - Energie Rinnovabili - Fotovoltaico - Off-grid

Kitobo Island, Uganda: off-grid photovoltaic power system with Vanadium storage completed

Kitobo Island (Kalangala District, Uganda) on Lake Victoria is finally lightened, and its 1.500 inhabitants are provided now with clean, safe, renewable and reliable electrical energy service. The power ensured by the photovoltaic power system is apt to satisfy the current and future needs of the small, active fishermen community.

Kitobo UgandaAs a matter of fact, Work System has completed the off-grid photovoltaic system with storage, commissioned by the project Sustainable Energy Services for Kitobo Island, co-funded by Energy & Environment Partnership and led by the investment platform Absolute Energy Capital, in partnership with the technicians of CIRPS and the NGO AVSI Foundation. The power plant is made of 880 polycrystalline photovoltaic panels, with a nominal power of 228,8 kWp, innovative redox flux Vanadium batteries with a total capacity of 520 kWh, and a gasoline generator of 60 kW, which will work only in case of extra-ordinary of the solar field, or in case of very high peak users load. The use of Vanadium batteries is a new challenge for medium-size off-grid power plants and presents several intrinsic advantages, in particular the high depth of discharge (close to 100%) and the large number of nominal lifecycles (at least 15.000). The power system also includes an advanced management system of energetic fluxes (Energy Management System) and a Battery Management System. The panels are fixed to the ground with steel structures, placed on the highland above the village, not far from it.

The three-phase, low-voltage distribution grid has been built by the Rural Electrification Agency, which has supported the project. The power system is currently providing electricity to more than 520 domestic and business users, by means of a continuous service for lights and connection of several electrical devices with domestic or commercial purposes, such as televisions, welding machines, grinding machines and ice machines. This activities diversify the local economy, based almost exclusively on fishing. The use of electrical service is managed by means of a pre-pay mobile system, and it is monitored through individual smart meters connected between them and with the remote management system.

The shipping, construction and completion of the power plant took only about 100 days to Work System, despite the intrinsic difficulties related to the local logistics and organization. Work System has also guaranteed the safe transportation of the components, overcoming many infrastructure and geographic obstacles of this remote equatorial region. The construction, including the civil works (access road, fencing, foundations, ducts) and the assembly of the components have been directed by the specialized personnel of Work System and involved workers hired from the local community.

This power plant represent a pilot project for the archipelago of 84 Ssese Islands and, according the available information, is the renewable energy-based off-grid power system that, in Africa, has the largest storage capacity, the most evolved smart grid and is the first one based on Vanadium technology.

The plant and, in general, the project, represents an innovative model able to provide a basic service that is still mostly lacking in most rural areas of Sub-Saharian Africa, where more than 600 million people do not have access to electricity (1,2 billion people in the entire world). At the same time, the intervention includes the technological state-of-the-art, respects the environmental sustainability and the economic-financial feasibility.