Schneider Electric, the global specialist in energy management, and DONG Energy, one of the leading energy groups in Northern Europe, announced on Thursday an agreement to cooperate on a technological and commercial partnership for a more sustainable energy supply of remote islands in Africa.
The ambition is to enable African electric network operators of remote or isolated island grids to increase the share of renewable energy used while maintaining grid stability and reliability for consumers, according to a statement obtained in Dakar.
Of the world’s 52 Small Island Developing States (SIDS), six are in Africa – Cape Verde, Comoros, Guinea Bissau, Mauritius, São Tomé and Príncipe and Seychelles.
These countries range in size from the smallest, Seychelles, which is composed of 115 small islands representing the largest number among African SIDS, to the largest, Guinea Bissau, which comprises close to 80 islands.
The statement notes that in Africa alone, at least 300 remote islands distanced from mainland grids exist.
These isolated island grids are often heavily diesel-dependent, incurring high electricity costs and subject to fluctuating fuel prices.
“This is a barrier for local economic development, for improving living standards and for reducing carbon emissions,” says the statement, adding that many island utility operators aim to replace diesel with renewable generation to reduce costs and reach renewable targets.
However, the main challenge of integrating intermittent renewable energy is the ensuing complexity of balancing the grid and maintaining reliability and stability. In effect this can cap the amount of renewable energy which can be efficiently integrated.
According to the statement with Dong Energy’s virtual power plant technology and Schneider Electric market-leader distribution grid field devices and management systems, the partners will address these crucial environmental issues. with the aim being to create a new platform offering real-time generation and demand forecasting, monitoring and control.
“DONG Energy has developed a virtual power plant system called Power Hub, which aggregates loads and generation capacity for network flexibility through a software platform,” the statement quotes Evert den Boer, Senior Vice President in DONG Energy, as saying.
den Boer adds that the system has already successfully demonstrated its capability and value in optimizing, balancing and improving the stability of remote micro-grids at the Faroe Islands.
“Integrating Power Hub with Schneider Electric power and grid management software platform will enable us to deliver a unique solution that addresses an important challenge of how to run an isolated electricity system in a safe, economically optimal manner, while making maximum use of renewable energy, not only in Europe, but also in Africa and globally.”
According to Frédéric Abbal, Executive Vice President of Schneider Electric Energy Division, alongside DONG Energy, Schneider Electric will bring its market-leader expertise in grid field devices, network automation and grid management systems in a uniquely modular approach to virtual power plants in order to overcome the operational challenges of dynamically balancing supply and demand.