Theo Guerre-Canon is the local project manager for Solarcentury’s Eritrea project. He tells us about the high hopes he has for social and economic change in the area.
Earlier this month we launched two solar-hybrid mini-grids.
Theo explains: “70% of the electricity from the mini-grids will be generated by solar, the remainder by diesel. By using batteries we are able to maximise the use of solar and carefully manage the use of expensive diesel generators. These mini-grids will supply electricity to two communities currently unconnected from any mains power supply. Areza and Maidma are rural communities in Eritrea that will benefit from this cleaner, more affordable reliable source of power. They currently depend entirely on diesel-generated power, available in the evening only, because they are set in one of the most remote areas in Eritrea without connection to the nation’s electrical grid.”
The electricity is estimated to power all of the homes in the two communities, plus schools and health services, and local businesses.
“Our hope is that access to reliable electricity will support wider economic growth in the region, and social development. We expect to see the development of local businesses like blacksmiths, workshops, restaurants, education and health services. There’s a clinic in Areza that will get uninterrupted electricity.” says Theo.
Solarcentury employed a primarily local workforce for the build phase of the project – with ~20 local workers on each site at times.
“We are prioritising working with local people from the surrounding villages and we’ll continue that into the next phase of the project – helping to maintain the systems.” Says Theo.
The project was funded by the European Union Delegation to the State of Eritrea through the ACP EU Energy Facility, the Government of the State of Eritrea and the United Nations Development Programme. The project was overseen by the Eritrean Ministry of Energy and Mines and will be operated by the Eritrean Electricity Company. Theo explains his hopes: “The situation at Areza and Maidma is mirrored across Africa, where the electrification rate is very low. Such remote locations often have limited or unreliable power from generators and are perfect for solar which generates electricity cheaply and is easy to maintain. We are excited to find similar opportunities in the coming months.”