With the initial commissioning of a combined photovoltaic plant and battery system in the Zambian province of Chisamba, BayWa r.e. has successfully completed the first pilot project in southern Africa. This makes the Agricultural Knowledge & Training Centre (AKTC) operated by the German and Zambian Ministry of Agriculture even more independent from the volatile power supply in Zambia. The plant supplies the farm for up to thirteen hours per day with 450 kWh of renewable energy for the irrigation of the agricultural land in the area. This equals the consumption of 150 litres of diesel fuel per day and the emission of 145 tonnes of CO2 per year.
“We are really happy to have successfully completed our first project in Africa,” comments Christof Thannbichler, Managing Director of BayWa r.e. Solar Projects GmbH. “Based on our years of experience in project planning in the PV sector, we see great potential in the entire region for the implementation of further weak and off-grid projects. We are going to significantly expand our activity on the African continent and already have further projects in development.”
The pilot plant on the premises of the AKTC farm consists of 260 solar modules erected in an east-west orientation with a total capacity of 86 kWp. They supply energy for the irrigation of a 90,000 m2 grain field. If more energy is generated than can be consumed immediately, it is stored temporarily in a 160 kWh battery storage system. Thanks to an intelligent control system for precise pump control, the water reservoir also serves as additional storage. With the battery and water storage the AKTC farm is supplied with PV power continuously from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. During this time it operates independently of the public grid. The farm is only re-connected to the grid at nighttime.
“It is precisely in the tropical and subtropical regions of the globe where farmers are dependent on reliable and uninterrupted power supply for the irrigation of their fields,” explains Tobias Kriete, Regional Manager Africa at BayWa r.e. Solar Projects GmbH. “With intelligently designed weak grid solutions like our PV battery storage system, we can supply operations with reliably and sustainably produced energy, independent of their connection to the public grid. This not only increases the productivity of processes but also contributes to a significant improvement in their ecological assessment.”
As a general contractor, BayWa r.e. was responsible for the planning, financing, installation and turn-key hand-over of the PV plant in Zambia. In the future, the company will also assume technical operations management of the plant. In addition to continuous monitoring of the systems remotely from Germany, BayWa r.e. also helps to train the farmers on location, so that they can take over the routine servicing of the plant together with local electricians in the future.