PV Brings New Life to Villagers in Mozambique

Jung-Hee Hongby Jung-Hee Hong (guest post), , 3 Comments

Another megawatt class off-grid PV system went into operation in Mozambique. The project was originally launched at the request of the Mozambican government to provide an electricity supply to three areas that have no connection to the local utility grid. Until now, the people in Muembe, Mavago and Mecula relied on candlelight and firewood. Now, they can dream of a better life and live a longer day with light from an off-grid system.


One of the World’s largest off-grid solar system

The PV system operator, FUNAE, a local utility company, implemented this off-grid system with the help from an Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) donation program, which is financed by the Korean government. This system comprises 5,400 PV modules with SMA having supplied 159 Sunny Island  battery inverters and 120 Sunny Mini Central  PV inverters.

“When the customer requested this project for the first time in 2009, there was almost no reference for a megawatt-scale off-grid system,” explained Sales director of SMA Korea Hyung-Jun Kim who is responsible for the project. “In addition, the 100-kW system with an MC-Box 12 was SMA’s biggest solution at the time. Therefore, we initially designed the system by connecting 10 of MC-Box 12s in parallel. However, the MC-Box 36 for a 300-kW system was being newly developed at SMA when the Mozambique project was in its development stages Thus, the system could be redesigned more effectively using the new device.”  SMA Korea



Stable energy supply

The electricity produced by the PV array during the daytime is stored in the Sunny Island, which uses lead-acid batteries and provides the entire city with energy. In addition, the Sunny Island controls the diesel generator in each site’s power plant to provide the residents with a stable energy supply even in case of an emergency. SMA has made a contribution to a stable and reliable energy supply in Muembe, Mavago and Mecula—by providing its Sunny Island and Sunny Mini Central inverters.



A big challenge brings big changes

The SMA Service team was there from the first commissioning in Muembe in September 2013, to completion of the last commissioning in Mecula in January 2014.   Mozambique is located in southeastern part of Africa and takes about 3 days to get to the local site from Korea. During the last commissioning in Mecula, many local workers suffered from malaria and plant construction was affected by the rainy season weather, which starts in November. Furthermore, for the duration of the project all staff on-site were told to be on alert for wild animal attacks, such as from hyenas. It was especially dangerous overnight because the accommodations were rudimentary and each work site had poor accessibility. However, despite these challenges, the off-grid system was put into operation successfully.

The electricity generated from the system will be used for streetlights, schools, public offices and private homes. With the energy supply from the off-grid system, things have already started to change. For example, through installation of streetlights, public safety has improved significantly, and truly exciting—schools can be supplied with electricity, thanks to system operator FUNAE, creating an academic learning environment for children. Additionally, it is expected that the number of residents there will steadily increase. In fact, a lot of people have already started moving to these electrified areas from surrounding areas.




  1. Jesse Wainaina
    Jesse Wainaina says:

    Also related;
    The largest Sma multicluster box connects a maximum 36 Sunny Islands for a synchronised offgrid system of up to 300KW.
    How can this be scaled upwards ? Or asked differently; How can you grow such an offgrid system from 300kw upwards? Can you add more multicluster boxes in parallel and synchronise them to the first one?
    What equipment will be used to sync the grid in the offgrid system?


    • Chris Greacen
      Chris Greacen says:

      hi Jesse — did you ever learn the answer to your question about paralleling MC-36’s? I am curious too.

  2. Jesse Wainaina
    Jesse Wainaina says:

    I would like to ask a question in regard to the project: How many SMA multicluster boxes were used since the whole system shows it utilized 159 Sunny Islands? How were they interconnected or what was used to synchronise them into one Grid?

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