Off-grid Power Conference at the Intersolar 2018

From energypedia

The Off-grid power forumorganised by ARE and BSW for the fourth time during the Intersolar 2018 brought together the off-grid companies to discuss mini-grids challenges, solar irrigation and off-grid hybrid PV in many countries: Nigeria, Madagascar, Mozambique, Tanzania, Myanmar, India and Pakistan! It was a great networking event – energypedia participated in several sessions and is looking forward to new collaborations with energypedia.

Off-grid power forum 2018

Wednesday 20. June 2018 (Room B.11)

Opening Ceremony

  • Moderation: Moderator: David Wedepohl, Managing Director, German Solar Association (BSW-Solar)
  • 12:00: Welcome and Introduction Off-Grid Forum
    David Wedepohl, Managing Director, German Solar Association (BSW-Solar), Germany & Pablo Astorga, Board of Directors, Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE), Belgium


  • 12:10: Keynote speech

Dr. Tania Rödiger-Vorwerk, Deputy Director General Directorate 31, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Germany

She presented the impacts of ProSolar Kenya: The mini-grid they installed three years ago serves 300 people that founded 49 new businesses and created more than 100 new jobs along with the access to energy.

  • 12:20: Potential of Off-Grid PV Technologies for Rural Electrification in Developing Countries

Sarah Berendes, Scientific Officer, Reiner Lemoine Institut gGmbH, Germany

One of the major barriers to energy planning is the lack of data.

She presented an interesting tool they used in Nigeria to model mini-grids in Nigeria. The GIS based analysis included the daily load curve and clustering the population to optimize the sizing of the mini-grids based on the the annual load profiles per cluster. See and The Reiner Lemoine Institut follows an open science policy and works a lot in the energy access sector.

Session 1 - Off-Grid Hybrid PV

  • Moderation: Moderator: Marcus Wiemann, Executive Director, Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE), Belgium
  • 12:45: Let’s make solar work - market activation for PV diesel hybrid systems in Nigeria, Olivier Drücke, Vice President, Solar23 GmbH, Germany & Christoph Urbschat, Managing Director, eclareon GmbH, Germany

An broad initiative to contrast the perception in Nigeria that solar does not work (because people did not knew how to handle, clean, maintain and use the technology in the past). The started with a demand side survey to identify the most relevant hurdles in the solar market in Nigeria. Most respondents did not feel they have enough information to take a good investment decision (17% had none information and 50% were divided about the level of information). The attitude was also not what they expected (solar did not have the same priority as in Germany among the population): only 13% mention a good perception of solar energy while 60% responses revealed a rather negative attitude.

In Nigeria, the power generation is often over-sized by 50%, therefore the diesel generators have very inefficient combustion patterns, raising the costs even more. PV prices that dropped down to 60-70 Naira (15-20 Eurocents) are already price competitive, but nobody knows that fact. Therefore, information about proper sizing of the power investment which the initiative provides on their platform. The second question they address is “does solar really work?”. Due to improperly planning by turnkey suppliers and clients and issues with the quality of hardware, the perception among the population is bad. Furthermore, a survey in 2017 identified skilled man power to be one of the main challenges of solar companies.

The initiative addresses those challenges: identifying key challenges with a survey among 40 mid-sized power consumers; training 20 TVET organisations; implementing an online calculator (unfortunately so far, only for bigger systems and not for off-grid and SHS solutions yet)

  • 13:05: Reliable Solar Off-Grid Solutions with Lead Batteries, Dr. Julia Ross, Head of Product Development, BAE Batterien GmbH, Germany
  •  13:25: Overcoming the challenges of Developing nations by using an automated platform for Off Grid Systems. Muhammad Junaid Qazi, President, Step Robotics, United Kingdom
  • 13:45: Wind +, a steep ahead on small wind turbines. Juande Bornay, Sales Director, BORNAY AEROGENERADORES SLU, Spain
  • 14:05: Off-grid and weak grid sector in Madagascar: Project opportunities in commercial & industrial Segment. Ralf Bernhard, Advisor, Project Development Programme (PDP), GIZ GmbH, Germany
  • 14:20: Q&A

Session 2 - Systems for Islands, Mini- & Micro-Grids

  • Moderation: Moderator: Michael Wollny, Founder and Managing Director, WOLLNY CONSULTING, Germany
  • 15:00: Nigerian Energy Support Programme (NESP) Mini-Grid Opportunities & Promotion Strategies. Olumide Fatoki, Senior Advisor, Sustainable Energy Access (Off-Grid), GIZ Nigerian Energy Support Programme II, Nigeria

Nigeria: NESP II the second phase has the target to reach 100,000 people. They identified the market potential to be 7 million people for mini-grids alone and in total 26 million within 23,000 clusters to be reached with on-grid solutions; 14,000 clusters with SHS and 7,800 clusters with mini-grids. The project will run over the next four years and is set to address the challenges:

  1. 1 There is no exchange of information among all market participants and #2 lack of data and #3 There are overlapping responsibilities among the governmental institutions therefore, companies do not know which authority to contact.
  • 15:20: Experiences with Mini Grids. Sebastian Seidl, Technical Sales Manager, SMA Sunbelt Energy GmbH, Germany

SMA sunbelt shared their lessons learnt of their 3-300 kW solutions (and larger hydro and grid connected systems).

  1. 1 Netmetering is very attractive under many electricity tariff schemes. #2 Also the “zero-feed-in” system (self-consumption) often provides a business case. #3 Importance of montoring is increasing (e.g. #4 The battery is the most critical part of an off-grid system, and you need smart communication about it. #5 For technical consulting and engineering (simulations, questionnaires, etc) the partner is important. Therefore, they set up an acadamy with an ToT concept (train-the-trainer) #6 PV is the cheapest resource #7 for a successful project you need three things: 1) higher off-grid number 2) support from the private or the public sector 3) financing
  • 15:40: Off-grid electrification in Mozambique. Peter Foerster, Advisor, Project Development Programme (PDP), GIZ GmbH, Germany

Mozambique: Peter pointed out that Mozambique has a very strong agricultural sector (72% of GDP) but at the same time that sector has a very small electricity share (only around 3%). In Mozambique, the fund FUNAE is acitve in targeting the energy access of the population, nowadays also the national EDM feels responsible in case of projects that exceed 1 MW. In Mozambique, tariffs are mandatory (see ARENE 2018) to be lower than the national grid – even if the uptaker is willing to pay higher tariffs. The targets set by the Government are 1. provide reliable supply 2. expand the generation and distribution 3. provide energy access (especially to the rural areas where only 20% have access to energy). The major issues with the market in Mozambique are 1. incomplete reforms 2. political & commercial risks 3. inadequate incentives/ RE regimes 4. Tehcnical engineering issues. That is why only a few RE projects have materialsed so far, and only because international donors took over the risks (30-40 MW). The political issue is that Mozambique is very centralised and the questions remains whether the interest of the EDM to be involved even in private projects is good or bad for business. The PDP programme will further push to team up power uptakers with suitable german RE companies.

  • 16:00: Overview of Mpale solar PV mini-grid in Tanzania, after 1 year of Operation. Alberto Rodríguez Gómez, Head of Department, Africa Region, Trama TecnoAmbiental, Spain

CASE STUDY TANZANIA: In the village Mpale, Trama TecnoAmbiental installed a solar PV mini-grid in Tanzania. Operation started 1 year ago with 32 clients in the low voltage network of 3 km. They expected to have at least 100 clients and involve productive uses to realise a payback period of 7 years. Today, they have 59 clients, however the huge potential of productive users are not yet connected (several mills, tea farmers want cooling stations, the village has 5 video-cinemas running on diesel generators). The other potential 300 households are not willing to subscribe with monthly payments between 4-40 EUR. Tariffs could be set as they pleased. Instead of consumption based tariffs, they opted for flat rates, because they have costs even if nobody consumes any energy. He emphasised the fact that mini-grids are investements into the public infrastructure and traditionally get heavy subsidies (over 50%).

  • 16:20: 200 Mini-Grids by 2021: What Myanmar’s off-grid market can tell us about global Trends. Patrick Pawletko, Advisor, Promotion of Rural Electrification (RELEC), GIZ GmbH, Myanmar

In the past two years, RELEC helped in doubling the number of mini-grids from 8 to 16 and 42 are expected to be running by 2019. The target for 2021 is 200 mini-grids.

That means that all systems are now underperforming, because they are planned for 2021 (in 5 years time). This could in turn be an interesting business case for productive use in the mean time.

GIZ advised the Government of Myanmar on a RE policy and combined the existing ones from Tanzania, Nigeria, and Thailand. Although there is one major difference in Myanmar, there is no independent regulator. In the past, community-based projects were realised, while today, the private sector model is in place. It is observed that solar mini-grids providers are faster and more innovative than more traditional mini-grid providers like hydro, biomass or diesel. He further pointed out that the FRAMEWORKS of USAID and NREL are both implemented in Myanmar.

Question: How to best reach marginalised communities?

18:00: Networking Reception (B2.309)

  • Moderation: David Wedepohl, Managing Director, German Solar Association (BSW-Solar)
  • 18:00: Welcome and opening the reception (BSW-Solar). David Wedepohl, Managing Director for International Affairs, German Solar Association (BSW-Solar), Germany
  • 18:05 Welcome note (ARE). Marcus Wiemann, Executive Director, Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE), Belgium
  • 18:10: Presentation by the sponsor of the Off-Grid Networking Reception "OutBack Power". Brandon Provalenko, Vice President of Commercial Operations - OutBack Power, USA

Thursday 21. Juni 2018 (Room B.11)

Session 3 - Stand-Alone Systems & Storage Solutions

  • Moderation: Moderator: Brandon Provalenko, Vi10:30 - 12:30:ce President of Commercial Operations - OutBack Power, USA.
  • 10:30: Solartainer - The development Hub. Jesse Pielke, Sales Manager, Africa GreenTec AG, Germany
  • 10:50: Trojan Solar AGM batteries - The worry free solution for rural electrification. Santiago Antolin, Technical Sales Engineer, Trojan Battery Company, USA
  • 11:10: Productive Usage of Off-Grid Equipments. Veerasamy Shanmuganandam, Director - Phocos India, Phocos AG, Germany

Fruit vendors in India could triple their daily income after they approached the Phocos team and bought an solar refrigerator. They could diversify their product range towards fresh juices, the solar panel on top of the cart offer shadow. Furthermore, the refrigerator can also serve as a freezer (customers can choose the temperature by themselves). Solar systems set up at the beach in India, for people to charge their laptops and phones, generate additional income with offering the space on the box for the battery to a bank to place advertisements on.

  • 11:30: Financing Energy Access & Productive Use in Myanmar
    Matthew Stanley Cullinen, Senior Director, Energy for Prosperity, Pact, Inc., USA
  • 11:50: Developing BoP Energy Markets through Private Sector Engagement
    Mehreen Shoaib, CEO & Hira Wajahat, Head of Projects, Stimulus Pvt. Ltd., Pakistan
  • 12:10: Q&A

Session 4 - Cross-sectoral systems - Off-Grid Solutions for Industries, Telecommunications and Infrastructure

  • Moderation: David Lecoque, Policy & Business Development Manager, Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE)
  • 13:00: Hybrid Renewable Energy Solutions for Telecommunication: case studies in Kazakhstan
    Alice Nencini, Operations Manager, Windkinetic Off-grid Power Systems, Italy
  • 13:20: Combining short and long term storage to unlock the full potential of decentralised renewable energy production
    Chris Prengels, Founder - CEO, Tiger Power, Belgium
  • 13:40: Remote O&M Tools for Off-Grid Hybrid Systems
    Patrick Cousins, CEO, Infinite Fingers GmbH, Germany
  • 14:00: Integrated hybrid systems for off-grid applications
    Erika Weber, General Manager, Freqcon GmbH, Germany
  • 14:20: Organic Flow Batteries: a key storage technology for off-grid power
    François HUBER, CEO, KEMWATT, France
  • 14:40 Q&A

Session 5 - Off-Grid for Agriculture - Water & Irrigation

  • Moderation: Jens Jaeger, Policy & Business Development Officer, Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE)
  • 15:15: Modernization of Irrigation Systems in Agriculture and Opportunities for Solar PV
    Parssa Razavi, Managing PartnerIrriport e.K., Iran & Christoph Urbschat, Managing Director, eclareon GmbH, Germany
  • 15:35: PV Off-grid  system for emergency Response
    Moisés Labarquilla, Innovation Manager, GFM Fotovoltaica, Spain
  • 15:55: Solar Irrigation - Can it be Plug-and-Pump?
    Jesper Blankenfeldt, Lead Product Development Engineer, GRUNDFOS Holding, Denmark
  • 16:15: An Overview of Solar Water Pump Deployment Models in India
    Diego Senoner, Technical Expert, Access to Energy in Rural Areas, Indo-German Energy Programme, GIZ GmbH, India
  • 16:35: Q&A

Selected side events:

Captive Power Opportunities in Nigeria: Community Driven Projects

21 June 2018 - Room 2, ICM, Intersolar Europe: Programme

BMZ Ali Mir highlighted the bottom-up approach and the fact that the cooperatives in Germany are the "backbone of the energy transition". Based on the Marshal plan and the  Green people's energy for Africa projectthe German Development Cooperation wants to assist in establishing at least 100 citizen-cooperations among African and German cooperatives and organisations.

Alexander Huppertz presented the RECP approach: on-grid (IPP and Capitive Power) and off-grid (Mini-grids and SHS, but no solar laterns yet). For selected focus countries they have been publishing market briefs with markte information for intrested companies:

Furthermore, two investment firms presented their plattforms: Crowd investing in Renewable Energy Projects

  • Betterinvest
  • Ecoligio

David Wedepohl, Managing Director International Affairs,BSW-Solar presented the latest developments and outlook of Captive Power in Nigeria.
Examples of green community captive power projects

  • Adetunji Alabi Iromini, Chief Executive Officer, Solarcentric Technologies Limited
  • Olatunde Isiolaotan, Chief Executive Officer, GRECO Power and Energy
  • Yeshua Russel, Managing Director, Gr

Mexico´s Push for Solar

The Mexican energy transition has created new market opportunities for solar energy. The first three energy auctions of 2016 resulted in contracting energy from new Solar Power Plants with a total capacity of around 6 GW to be built in the next 3 years. The new regulation for distributed generation as of march 2017 will spur a dynamic market development.

In this event, public and private sector representatives will deliver firsthand information on different market segments, covering the third round of clean energy auctions, business models for distributed generation and financing options for solar. It was well attended and participating companies reported direct business contacts.

Selected Award winning projects