New solar power solution for rural Liberia

By Fran Roberts

Bandera Electric Cooperative was selected by NRECA (National Rural Electric Cooperative Association) International to design and procure a solar and energy storage solution for Totota, Liberia, located 160 km east of the capital, Monrovia.

With a population of approximately 6,400, Totota is a rural community and is home to stores, workshops, restaurants, schools, clinics, churches, mosques and government offices.

 Despite the town's status as a regional trading centre, most households rely on dry cell batteries, lanterns and candles for illumination while a small number purchase electric service from individuals who own and operate small generators.

BEC Solar, a subsidiary of Bandera Electric Cooperative, designed and procured a stand-alone 70 kW energy solution that will provide power to about 400 houses and businesses in Totota.

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The power system and utility will be owned by a local electric cooperative. This energy solution includes 220 solar panels, a lithium-ion battery storage solution capable of providing 90 kWh of energy, along with a back-up diesel generator.

"Totota lacks the infrastructure and resources needed to sustain a reliable and effective power generation system," said Miguel Rivera, Renewable Energy Program Manager for BEC Solar.

"This energy solution was designed to meet the challenges of providing reliable electricity to a remote area."

The NRECA International team is currently implementing several Beyond The Grid (BTG) projects in rural Liberia for the US. Agency for International Development (USAID).

BTG is part of the US Government's Power Africa initiative, with the goal to spur stability and economic development by delivering reliable, predominantly renewable electricity to Liberia's rural towns.

"The team at Bandera Electric Cooperative understands the challenges we face in providing reliable electricity access to remote areas in Liberia," said Dan Waddle, NRECA International Senior Vice President.

"Having an American electric cooperative help us provide a reliable and affordable energy solution to another cooperative in Liberia demonstrates not just the ability to help, but the willingness to cross borders to help communities."

NRECA International, an affiliate of NRECA, has been working as a USAID partner since 1962.

The American electric cooperative community supports NRECA International's work through monetary contributions, material donations, and on-the-ground expertise, including sending hundreds of linemen, engineers and managers to volunteer on NRECA-sponsored projects.

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