Photon Energy targets African market with solar arrays

UK-based Photon Energy is aiming to claim its share of the African market for solar power, with an agreement to collaborate with Tanzanian company Comfix Engineering.

Photon and Comfix have joined forces with the aim of finding a solution to Tanzania’s unreliable electricity supply, by installing solar arrays that power banks of batteries.

The joint venture plans to strike deals with local organisations such as housing developers, businesses, schools and hospitals across the country to install the arrays, which will deliver comparatively cheap power during mains power outages.

Jonathan Bates, Photon’s director, said: “People in Tanzania face frequent power outages which they cope with by switching on diesel generators – but these are smelly, noisy and expensive to run.”

Solar arrays offer a far cheaper, more reliable alternative, he said, adding that Tanzania’s climate and recent developments in the solar market – which have hit European and US manufacturers hard - could actually make renewables a reality for poorer countries.

“The sunny weather conditions in Africa and the plunging costs of the technology have now made solar power a genuine option,” he said.

This project marks Photon Energy’s first major project outside the UK, where it has focused its efforts on installing solar PV and wind turbines to domestic and commercial properties. The company, which had a turnover of £5 million in 2011, has installed around 3MW of solar capacity in the UK in 2012.

According to latest figures from HM Revenue and Customs, UK exports to sub-Saharan Africa in September totalled £667 million out of a global total of £11.7bn – just 5%.

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets  •  Solar electricity  •  World Future Energy Summit