The Democratic Republic of Congo now has the largest off-grid solar hybrid production facility in sub-Saharan Africa. This installation is the work of Nuru SARL, a Congolese company working to improve connectivity to electricity for the people of DRC.
Jonathan E. Shaw, Chairman and CEO of Nuru SARL, had the honour of inaugurating the plant on the 4th of February 2020, in the presence of national and provincial authorities. “The system put into service today,” he explained, “is an uncompromising energy solution. We used the best technology in the world to produce this system. The quality of this production unit is comparable to any system of this scale anywhere on earth,” he said.
Nuru decided to focus its resources on the Ndosha district, considered neglected and plagued by insecurity due to, among other things, obscurity, according to the company’s press release. The installation has nearly 4,000 solar panels, each with a generation capacity of 335Watts, giving a total output of 1.3MW.
Nuru has used ecologically friendly electricity poles, made from bamboo, to carry the electric cables that power its customers; smart meters measure and monitor customer consumption.
Nuru is determined to achieve its ambition of “providing 5 million satisfied customers with world-class connectivity by 2024” according to CEO Jonathan Shaw. The company is preparing to deploy an additional 23MW of hybrid solar capacity in the next 24 months, in Goma in North Kivu, Maniema, Ituri, Haut-Uélé and Kasaï . By the end of 2021, it aims to commission 7 sites across the DRC.
Nuru has entered into a partnership with SNEL, which will allow the company to “provide up to 150MW of extended power to the grid in the Northeast.” By realizing all this work, Nuru’s end goal is to “establish a corporate culture in the Congo which embodies our values of relentless growth, the highest levels of quality, integrity and commitment.”
Nuru is a Congolese company founded in August 2015 in Beni by Jonathan Shaw and Archip Lobo under the name “Kivu Green Energy”. In September 2019, the company changed its name to “Nuru”, a Swahili word meaning Light. This change of name “reflects its expansion beyond the regions of Kivu”.
Élan works with existing Renewable Energy actors to support specific products but to look for new entrants building on the success of previous work in the consumer sector. An area of interest for Élan is the possibility to use commercial and industrial off takers as ‘anchor’ loads which then allow the surrounding community or households to benefit from the resulting mini-grid. This has already been done successfully by Kivu Green energy in Beni by providing competitively priced electricity to surrounding businesses and households.