The first photovoltaic modules, which are particularly suitable for smaller-scale solar applications, are due to be manufactured by as early as October 2010.
Ubbink B.V., the Dutch subsidiary of the energy-saving group CENTROTEC Sustainable AG, is currently building East Africa’s first solar module plant in Kenya with an initial production capacity of 30.000 modules per year. For this venture, the company is teaming up with Chloride Exide, which is already an established supplier of solar systems in Africa. The first photovoltaic modules, which are particularly suitable for smaller-scale solar applications, are due to be manufactured by as early as October 2010.
The solar plant that is being built, by the name of Ubbink East Africa Ltd., is located in Naivasha close to the Kenyan capital Nairobi, and will operate according to European technological and quality standards. To assure a smooth production start, some Kenyan personnel will first be given training in the Netherlands on the pre-installed production machinery. The internationally experienced manager Haijo Kuper has been recruited as Managing Director of the new facility, on the strength of his extensive experience of similar projects in Zimbabwe, Bahrain and Oman gained while working for Unilever.
Ubbink East Africa will perform a pioneering role in developing the African photovoltaic market. The solar modules to be built there, initially in the 3.6 Wp to 80 Wp performance range, are manufactured based on reworked broken high quality solar cells. The modules are suitable for use in private homes, village plants and solar power plants serving schools, hospitals, water supply infrastructure and telecommunications systems. Such smaller integrated systems assuring an independent energy supply, known as solar home systems, have huge potential in Africa.
Many areas of the African continent, which has attracted the glare of worldwide publicity thanks to the World Cup, still remain cut off from a fully functioning electricity grid. Almost 98 % of the rural population does not have access to a grid power supply and is therefore severely hampered in its efforts to develop economically. The only readily available energy sources are high-pollution kerosene lamps and costly diesel generators that are maintenance-heavy and moreover exposed to the risk of escalating fossil fuel prices. Gert-Jan Huisman, CEO of CENTROTEC Sustainable AG, elaborated: “As one of the sunniest continents on our planet, Africa gives solar applications like LED-lighting, mobile phone charging, water pumps, street lighting etc. very short payback-times, in particular in off-grid situations. We aim to be among the first to capitalise on its potential by launching solar modules “European Engineering: Made in Africa”. The response to our initiative has already been huge. We look forward to implementing our plans swiftly and successfully.”
Being a lighthouse project for renewable energy systems in Africa, Ubbink achieved a 50 % funding of the investment by the Dutch government fund for sustainable energy in underdeveloped countries. In a later project stage it is intended to enlarge the product offering towards other renewable energy solutions, e.g. solar thermal systems, from CENTROTEC’s product portfolio.
CENTROTEC Sustainable AG
CENTROTEC Sustainable AG and its subsidiaries enjoy a presence in over 50 different countries. The principal group companies are Wolf, Brink Climate Systems and Ned Air in the Climate Systems segment, which have specialised in heating, climate control and ventilation technology e.g. in the form of solar thermal systems, CHP units and residential ventilation systems with heat recovery, as well as Ubbink and Centrotherm, which have focused on gas flue systems and solar system components in the Gas Flue Systems segment. CENTROTEC is consequently Europe’s only listed full-service provider of solar thermal systems and energy-saving solutions for buildings.
The Ubbink Group with its corporate headquarter in The Netherlands provides innovative building solutions and technologies to increase the energy efficiency of buildings and improve their indoor climate. Besides gas flue systems, Ubbink manufactures, configures and sells products for air- and water-tightness, room ventilation, solar components, systems and services in Europe and around the world.