Concentrating Photovoltaics: Soitec Supplies Solar CPV System for Microgrid Project in Madagascar

Fondation Énergies pour le Monde (Paris) has completed installation of a 2.28 kW Soitec concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) system, which combined with pre-existing wind turbines powers a microgrid for a small community on the island of Madagascar.

The project was supported by Soitec SA’s (Bernin, France) Sunidarity Initiative, and will bring electricity to the community of Ambondro, near Ambovombe. The system includes a Plug&Sun CPV system on two trackers as well as battery storage, and is the first decentralized rural electrification project of its kind in Madagascar.

“The installation of a hybrid wind/solar system is a first, important step,” states Fondation Énergies pour le Monde Director Yves Maigne. “Within a year, we will have sufficient feedback to be able to evaluate the system’s operation. That will help us decide on the use of Plug&Sun for eight other Malagasy villages already identified by our Foundation.”

A Soitec technician assisted in assembling and commissioning the CPV systems at the site, as well as training local personnel in maintenance and servicing. The company’s Sunidarity Initiative aims to provide power to areas which lack electricity, as a means to support social and economic development.

Soitec’s CPV technology uses triple-junction cells mounted on a glass plate. Fresnel lenses, manufactured using silicone on glass, concentrate sunlight 500 times before it reaches the cells, which convert it into electricity. A metal frame holds two glass plates to form durable and resilient modules. By combining several modules on biaxial trackers, which use a proprietary algorithm to automatically optimize their position based on the path of the sun, Soitec’s technology is designed to maximize energy generation throughout the day.

The Plug&Sun system was designed to meet the energy needs of isolated sites. The system comprises two or three trackers linked to an energy management system and a set of batteries. Each tracker is made up of 12 CPV modules (total surface area: 4.2 square meters) with peak power of 1.14 kWp. Using an integrated battery system, the electricity produced during the day by the trackers can be stored and used to supply electrical equipment. 

Source: Soitec