Fonroche Lighting, a French renewable energy business that has been pioneering renewable energy solutions for more than ten years has set its sights on Southern Africa. Considered the world's leading provider of off-grid, solar lighting solutions for street lighting and public facilities, Fonroche has identified Southern Africa as a region which would benefit greatly from its technology to help combat the region’s energy supply and growth challenges.
Fredrik Hagelberg, who will be heading up Fonroche Lighting in Southern Africa says, “Having seen the rapid adoption of solar powered solutions in the last 10 years in Southern Africa, solar powered street and public space lighting is another logical step towards addressing rising energy costs and unreliable energy supply, not to mention the positive environmental impact it will have. In the same way Africa has leap-frogged over fixed telephone line infrastructure to adopt mobile phone technology, it just makes sense we leapfrog over expensive, grid-connected infrastructure wherever possible.”
Just over 10 years ago, Fonroche identified solar street lighting as a massive need, and in particular the developing world, where the costs of solar lighting is often far more competitive than conventional street lighting considering the energy and installation costs associated with grid connected lights.
Fonroche has been successful in various regions around the world, but has been particular successful in Africa and other regions that experience extreme heat such as the UAE, due its proprietary storage technology that easily copes with temperatures of up to 70 degrees Celsius. As a recent example, Fonroche was awarded the largest solar powered street lighting contract in the world, supplying Senegal with just over 50 000 solar street lights. This will effectively supply one third of Senegal’s public lighting needs. “This is a prime example of what the future for holds for Africa when looking to improve, and build new infrastructure to help grow its economies”, says Hagelberg. “It not only offers a faster way to get much needed light to these areas at the same, or less of a cost, than conventional lighting, but it also creates new employment opportunities.”
Fonroche designs and manufactures all of its own street lights in its factory in France and say that they can assist with installation by either training staff or depending on the project, employ crews to do the installation on behalf of the client. Typically, one of the benefits of being a solar powered solution is that it is a relatively safe and easy installation that does not require engineers with high-voltage certification as it is not grid connected. Fonroche says that its clients also benefit from an end-to-end solution where Fonroche engineers design each project to meet the site’s needs as opposed to an “off-the-shelf” solution. For example, Hagelberg says, “If lighting is required for a large retail parking lot, by being able to dim the lights for a few hours at night when little activity is likely, let’s say from 12am till 4am, our lighting designer can allow for this by using either a smaller solar module or perhaps a smaller battery pack, which in turn reduces the CAPEX cost per light”. The Fonroche design team supplies detailed studies for each project proposal and as a result claim that they can support their guarantee of supplying light for 365 nights of the year.
Fonroche Lighting plans on building its own assembly facility in the future and procuring some of its components locally such as the steel poles and potentially solar modules, but until then, is looking for partners to distribute its lights throughout the region as it builds its presence locally.
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