ABB enables access to electricity in Africa

May 3, 2017 - Innovative micro substations bring power to rural areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo

In parts of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia – especially in rural communities – an estimated 1.2 billion people still have no basic access to electricity to simply light their homes. Many more people suffer from poor quality electrical supply.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), 8 out of 10 residents have no access to electricity at all, according to the World Bank. Transmission lines connect big cities across the country, providing grid power, but scattered rural populations are unable to tap into these lines to provide electricity for their own use. Yet, reliable and affordable energy could improve people’s lives by lighting schools, hospitals and homes and – on a broader scale – transform the community by creating new employment opportunities.

Conventional power transmission and distribution requires a minimum amount of power for grid connectivity to be economically viable. Conventional substations are unsuitable for areas that require relatively small power loads.

But ABB has come up with an innovative solution that taps into existing high voltage transmission lines located in the vicinity and step down the voltage level to provideelectricity to small communities living nearby.

ABB has installed such a micro substation in each of seven rural farming villages in Southern DRC to bring affordable electricity to more than 5,000 people. The project was commissioned by the DRC’s national electricity company, Société nationale d'électricité (SNEL), and leverages funding from the European Investment Bank.

The micro substations use ABB’s Service Station Voltage Transformer (SSVT), which transforms the power tapped from the high voltage line to low voltage output for distribution to small communities. If there is an increase in demand for power, additional SSVTs can be installed within the same micro substation. These are an ideal solution for rural electrification projects for small communities throughout the world where high-voltage lines are close by.

Another example of ABB’s committment to technology innovation to make a difference to peoples’ lives by providing them with a vital access to electricity.

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