CIO East Africa (Nairobi)

Kenya to Pilot Solar Microsol That Gives Electricity, Drinking Water and Heat Simultaneously

Schneider Electric a market leader in energy management with operations in more than 100 countries, inaugurated the MiCROSOL project aims to develop a single, modular standard technology for producing electricity, drinking water and heat simultaneously, primarily to benefit micro-industries located in rural areas of countries with high levels of sunshine, especially in Africa.

MiCROSOL is based on the principle of cogeneration of electricity and heat, applying a new approach to a technology that is already widespread - solar thermodynamics. The solution focuses its constraints on the design of thermal storage that only uses environmentally-friendly products.

Its purpose is to simultaneously meet three basic needs regularly expressed by these people: Access to electricity that is reliable, efficient and inexpensive; Clean drinking water that is produced economically and consistently; and Heat generation that is continuous and environmentally sound. Microsol can help micro-producers in the food, textile and paper industries with processing their raw materials by automating some of their processes (e.g. drying, washing, pasteurization, etc.). In the tertiary sector, Microsol can help the tourist industry by providing the energy needed for many premium services: electricity for HVAC, refrigeration or security; heat for hot water, laundry or heating; water for drinking or cooking.

Located in a rural village, Microsol can also meet some or all of the production needs of local residents: water supply, electrification of communal areas, and so forth.

A Microsol solution produces 50 MWh/year of electricity, 1,000 m3/year of drinking water, and around 800 MWh/year of thermal energy. The solution has an expected life of at least 20 years. "That technology can help Africa's poorest countries", said Pradeep Monga, Director of the Energy & Climate Change Branch of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), while attending the inauguration of Microsol solution. For the environment, Microsol is a green solution that guarantees zero greenhouse gas emissions, reduced deforestation and health problems owing to the clean production of heat and electricity. Also, Microsol use easily recyclable steel and aluminum components. Gilles Vermot Desroches, Senior Vice-President, Sustainability, Schneider Electric, announced: "All countries with high levels of sunshine are potential targets for marketing Microsol. However, because of its infrastructure needs, geographical location and economic models, Schneider Electric and its partners decided to focus their efforts on Africa".

After market research, the consortium led by Schneider Electric chose Kenya as pilot country for the industrialization and commercialization of Microsol. Kenya meets a set of favorable conditions for the establishment and development of this solution.

The consortium plans to start the commercialisation phase in 2015.

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