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Soitec supports III-V solar system Madagascar project

The first installation of its kind in the country is part of the Sunidarity initiative, launched by Soitec to help humanitarian projects benefit from autonomous solar energy generation

One of the winners of the Sunidarity initiative, Fondation Énergies pour le Monde (Energy for the World Foundation), has just finished installing a concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) system in southern Madagascar.

The Plug&Sun system from Soitec, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of CPV systems and founder of the Sunidarity initiative, enables independent solar-power generation in areas without access to the electricity grid.

The rural electrification project put forward by Fondation Énergies pour le Monde won over the Sunidarity jury with its original and on-target approach to bring electricity to a small community in Madagascar. To fulfil the project, Fondation Énergies pour le Monde was awarded a Plug&Sun system, as were other Sunidarity winners.

Set up in the commune of Ambondro, near Ambovombe, the Plug&Sun system comprises two trackers capable of generating 2.28 kWp for a total of up to 12 kWh per day.

Fondation Énergies pour le Monde has coupled the Plug&Sun trackers with a small electrical network combining a set of batteries and two wind turbines installed in 2010 to supply additional power and ensure the continuity of electricity generation for the whole village. This project is the first decentralized rural electrification operation of its kind in Madagascar.

A Soitec technician assisted in assembling the CPV systems on site, connecting them to the existing power system and training local technical personnel in maintenance and servicing.

Through this operation, Fondation Énergies pour le Monde and Soitec are contributing to the fight against poverty by using a technical solution that matches the social context and energy usage of the community.

Access to local, renewable energy helps improve living conditions in terms of domestic comfort, health and education for rural populations and contributes to the development of income-generating activities, eliminating the need for fossil fuels.

Yves Maigne, director of Fondation Énergies pour le Monde, says, “The installation of a hybrid wind–solar system is a first, important step. 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.”

Gaetan Borgers, executive vice president of the Solar Energy Division at Soitec, adds, “Our concentrating photovoltaic technology is especially well suited to areas that enjoy abundant sunlight, where the output from our modules is more than twice as high as that of standard photovoltaic products."

Borgers continues, "Our range of products also means we are able to supply systems for power facilities generating hundreds of megawatts as well as to respond to off-grid project requirements. With the Sunidarity initiative, we are delighted to help organisations such as Fondation Énergies pour le Monde benefit from our technology.”

About concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) technology

Soitec’s CPV technology uses III-V based triple-junction cells mounted on a glass plate. Fresnel lenses, manufactured using silicone on glass, concentrate sunlight 500 times before it reaches the cells, which convert it into electricity.

A metal frame holds two glass plates to form highly robust, durable and resilient modules. By combining several modules on biaxial trackers, which use a proprietary algorithm to automatically optimise their position based on the path of the sun, Soitec’s technology maximises energy generation throughout the day.

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