On 15 March last, the French agency for the environment and energy management (Ademe) held a ceremony to pay tribute to the winners of its call for project proposals focusing on “Innovative solutions for access to off-grid energy”. Two GRET projects featured among the nine winning initiatives. We take a look at one of these two projects, which is being rolled out in Madagascar.
In Madagascar, the rate of access to electricity remains very low (6 %), especially in rural areas. This limits economic development and has negative impacts on education and health. Low density of housing in rural areas and limited demand for energy from populations make small-scale off-grid solutions more pertinent than extending the national grid. Despite hydroelectric potential, the fact that setting up small power stations requires significant investment and building work for just a small number of subscribers hinders their deployment.
GRET, which has been working for over ten years in the hydroelectricity sector in Madagascar, joined with Guinard Energies, a start-up based in Brest, in western France, and a Malagasy operator – Société pour la maîtrise de l’eau, de l’énergie et de l’environnement (SM3E) – to develop a pilot off-grid electrification project using a small marine turbine to supply a mini-network in Madagascar.
Guinard Energies developed a small marine turbine, which is easy to install and adaptable, using water velocity (kinetic energy). The latter can respond to the issues of access to energy in a country such as Madagascar. For the moment, the systems have been tested in Brittany, in western France, and in French Guiana, but not yet in developing countries. Juliette Darlu, Energy project manager with GRET, tells us about the origins of this collaboration: “GRET was already in contact with Guinard Energies and synergies had been identified. Ademe’s call for project proposals enabled us to create a concrete partnership: Guinard, a developer of innovative technology for off-grid solutions is complementary to GRET, which is a stakeholder working in the field with experience in issues relating to access to decentralised energy. For the operation and maintenance of the system, we immediately thought of SM3E as we had already worked with them as part of the Rhyviere 1 project. The SM3E managers also teach at Antananarivo University and are interested in action-research.
The system in detail
In concrete terms, a small marine turbine, approximately one metre high and one and a half metres long, will produce 3.5 kW 24 hours a day, and will be installed under a bridge, without civil engineering. This production will be hybridised by a solar source to produce peak energy of 10 kW. An additional advantage is the fact that production is continuous, making it possible to significantly reduce the size of the battery bank, and thereby investment costs.
The 600 inhabitants and the school in the village of Ambatoloana, in the Analamanga region, will benefit from the electricity service. Energy requirements and the capacity to pay for the service will be estimated, making it possible to define electricity prices that will be affordable for all. Income from the sale of electricity will make it possible for SM3E to remunerate its technical teams, carry out maintenance and repairs, and anticipate renewal of equipment. GRET will provide support to SM3E at all stages, from obtaining authorisations from the Agency for the development of rural electrification through to management of clients. If demand increases, a complementary turbine can be added.
In parallel to the pilot project, a study of hydrokinetic potential will be conducted in the north-west of Madagascar (Aloatra-Mangoro, Atsinanana and Analanijirofo regions) and opportunities for developing the wind turbine sector will be explored. This study should make it possible to demonstrate the reliability of the technology and to continue using it in Madagascar.
More information on Rhyviere 1 and Rhyviere 2
More information on GRET’s activities in Madagascar and in the area of energy
Read the Ademe press release (only in french)
Visit the Guinard Energies website