Sierra Leone awards off-grid solar PV project contracts

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Laos-based Sunlabob Renewable Energy on Friday announced it has been awarded two contracts for the design, supply, installation and training of locals for 13 turnkey solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants in off-grid areas of Sierra Leone.

The installations – funded by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido) – would provide reliable electricity supply to universities, training facilities and community centres to facilitate local enterprise development and improve Internet access.

“Providing off-grid areas with renewable energy not only enables dependable and affordable electricity, but also opens the door to positive, long-term social and economic development,” said Sunlabob founder and CEO Andy Schroeter.

“The efforts from Unido to electrify, through decentralised solar PV, are a prime example of how public–private partnerships can squarely address objectives such as improved education, increased job opportunities and greater communications access.”

The company asserted that fewer than 10% of Sierra Leone’s population had access to electricity and, for the portion of the population that did, prices were significantly high, owing to inefficient and costly generators.

To complete the 13 solar-powered local enterprise development projects – twelve 5 kWp plants and one 16 kWp plant – Sunlabob would embed members of its engineering team alongside local partners to undertake the design, installation, testing and commissioning of the systems.

The company would also provide hands-on operation and maintenance training with community members to build awareness and understanding to enable longevity of the solar systems.

“Without local capacity building, development of off-grid energy cannot be sustainable,” said Schroeter.

Sunlabob had previously designed, installed and provided community training for three solar PV plants totalling 53 kWp in three industrial growth centers in the villages of Bo, Kpandebu and Pujehun, in Sierra Leone.

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