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International Journal of Mechanical Engineering Research.

ISSN 2249-0019 Volume 5, Number 2 (2015), pp. 97-108

Research India Publications

Photovoltaic Energy: Future of The Industrial Development

of The African Continent??
Franois Ntambwe Kadinda1
Laboratory of Mechanical Vibration and Acoustic, Dpt of Electromechanical, Faculty
of Engineering , UNILU, Lubumbashi, Democratic republic of congo
Jeannot Mpiana Kaniki2
Electrical Engineering Departement /Lovely Professional University
Punjab ,India

Due to the importance and the high level of consumption of energy due to the
world technology evolution, the promotion of renewable energy is one of the
priorities in the actual industries. In The present paper the authors demonstrate
attempts to demonstrate that photovoltaics could be the future of the industrial
development of the African Continent. The photovoltaic effect of certain
semiconducting materials promotes the production of electrical power, the
exhaustible energy resources generate environmental problems inherent in
their modes of operation. Africa, enjoying virtually its entire continental very
good coefficient of sunshine, its industrial development can be effective by
controlling production of photovoltaic techniques.
Keywords: Photovoltaics, DESERTEC project, reducing greenhouse gas
emissions, energy generation factor of human development, photovoltaic
effect, photovoltaic electrical.

As the importance of energy consumption increase in a rate, conventional source of
energy tend to decrease in a very high rate due to the fact that the consumption of the
resources is very high than the synthesis of the considered the main solution
found to this is to switch to non-conventional energy resources. In its main objective
the present paper as an objective to give light to different searcher around the world
about the about the high potentiality of the African continent for the solar energy
generation. The intention is not to make a very large masterful communication, very
high scientific and academic significance but rather to arouse curiosity researchers
deepen within the subject to make available the technical information makers that can


Franois Ntambwe Kadinda

allow them to remain very attentive to the evolution and development of photovoltaics
in Africa particularly and the world in general.
Indeed, there exists at the level of education, I would say at the laboratory level, a
very large project called "Desertec" by the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) which
provides for the construction of huge solar thermal power plants in the Sahara .
This ambitious project plans for a 100 GW solar energy production for the year
2050, in the following objectives:
To supply much of the SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA,
To import part of this "clean electricity" in Europe,
To achieve very significant reduction targets in greenhouse gas emissions set
by the European Union.
It remains to be seen whether the relatively long distance will not stop the
voracious appetite of Europeans investors in renewable energies.
Note that since the late 19th century, in general, the energy consumption has
become increasingly important and only increase if an exponential evolution. This
consumption is dictated by the ever increasing need for development because energy
is essentially a human development factor of the generator.
So the energy resources used may be conventional resources (non-renewable) or
non-conventional resources (renewable) and can be:
Exhaustible if the refresh rate is lower than that of consumption,
Non exhaustible in the opposite case.
Exhaustible resources are mainly fossil fuels, derived from, Carbon products (peat,
lignite, coal, anthracite, petroleum and natural gas) or nuclear fission (uranium).
Among renewable resources include primarily: hydropower, solar energy, biomass
energy, wind energy, geothermal energy and tidal energy.
Exhaustible resources inevitably generate environmental problems whereas
renewable resources are said to own because their operation does not create any
ecological or environmental problem.
Among the clean energy, solar power brings hope for the development of the
African continent because it is the only continent relatively very well covered by the
sun as shown in the world map of sunshine hours per day.
The situation of excessive cost is comparable to that of mobile phones in the late
1980s because at that time, the cell phone which had seen the day was inaccessible to
the vast majority of the population, except for some wealthy people could acquire it.
Within 5 to 10 years later, he has become accessible by virtually all segments of the
population. Today, even relatively poor people in developing countries know how to
get dirt cheap mobile phone.
We could therefore predict that in a decade, two decades at most, photovoltaics
could see a great expansion. This assertion is supported by the DESERTEC project
which we referred above. It may, in addition, hope to drastically reduce the excessive
cost of photovoltaic equipment by supporting locally manufacture certain components
such as the photovoltaic module itself bearing quartz. As we have reported, we will
present the state of consumption and the evolution of the use of energy in several
African countries.

Photovoltaic Energy: Future of The Industrial Development of The African et. al. 99

Figure 1: Global distribution of sunlight

Production of Solar Energy

A photovoltaic cell is an optoelectronic component that converts sunlight directly into
electricity through a process called "photovoltaic effect." It occurs in a
semiconductor material, mainly Silicon, provided with positive and negative electrical
charges under the effect of light. This material is a semiconductor having two parts:
One exhibiting an excess of electrons called n-doped
And the other having excess of Holes said p-type doped electron.
When a junction between a p and n type material is formed, the carriers (free
electrons and holes) diffuse from the high concentration to the low concentration side.
Soon after crossing the junction,they recombine with the other type of carrier found in
majority on the other side [1].We see that the Holes which neutralize the acceptor ions
near the Junction in the p type side desapeared as a result of recombination with free
electrons which have defused from the junction.
A PN junction is thus formed (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Photovoltaic cell

The electrical power produced by an industrialized photovoltaic cell is very low
and its value ranges from 1 to 3 watts with a voltage below 1 volt. [2]
The conversion yield of currently marketed cells reached 15 to 19% for the single
crystal silicon, 12-16% for the polysilicon 7 to 9% for the amorphous silicon. To raise
the voltage, the cells are commercialized as photovoltaic modules.


Franois Ntambwe Kadinda

From the historical point of view is:

In 1839 the French physicist Edmond Becquerel discovered the process of
using sunlight to produce electric current in a solid material. This is the
photovoltaic effect.
In 1875, WERNER VON SIEMENS outlines to the Academy of Sciences
BERLIN an article on the photovoltaic effect in semiconductors. But until the
Second World War, the phenomenon is still a laboratory curiosity.
1954: three Americans CHAPIN respectively researchers, and PEARSON
PRINCE, develop a photovoltaic cell with high efficiency when the fledgling
space industry seeks new solutions for powering satellites.
In 1958: a photovoltaic cell with a 9% yield is developed. The first planet
powered by solar cells are sent into space.
In 1973: the first house powered by solar cells is built at the University of
In 1983 the first car powered by photovoltaic energy travels a distance of
4,000 km AUSTRALIA.
The first photovoltaic cell (or solar cell) was developed in the US in 1954 by
researchers BELL laboratories, which found that the photosensitivity of silicon could
be increased by adding impurities. This technique, called doping is used for all
semiconductors. But despite the interest of scientists over the years, it is only during
the space race that cells have left the laboratory. Indeed, the solar cells are the ideal
solution to meet the electricity needs on board satellites, as well as any single site [3]
Advantages of a photovoltaic system[3] [5]
A high reliability. The system has no moving parts that make it particularly
suitable for remote areas. This is the reason for its use on spacecraft;
The modular nature of PV allows simple and adaptable to various mounting
energy needs. Systems can be designed for applications ranging powers in the
milliwatt Megawatt;
The operating cost of a PV system is relatively low given the number of
interviews is very small. The operation of a photovoltaic system requires no
fuel or transportation or highly specialized personnel;
Photovoltaic technology has remarkable qualities ecologically because the
finished product is non-polluting, silent and causes no environmental
disturbance, if not by the use of space for large installations.
Disadvantages of a photovoltaic system [3] [5]
Manufacture of photovoltaic module is the high technology and requires
investment of high cost;
The actual conversion efficiency of a module is small, of the order of 10-15%
(between 10 and 15 MW / km per year for BENELUX) with a theoretical
limit for a cell enjoying a return that can reach 28%;
It depends on weather conditions;
When the storage of electrical energy in chemical form (drums) is required,
the cost of the generator is increased;

Photovoltaic Energy: Future of The Industrial Development of The African et. al. 101
Storage of electrical energy still poses many technical problems.
The low efficiency of photovoltaic panels is due to the very functioning of cells.
To get to move an electron, it is necessary that the energy of the radiation is at least 1
eV. All incident rays with lower energy will therefore not be converted into
electricity. Similarly, light rays with an energy greater than 1 eV lose this energy, the
remainder will be dissipated as heat.

Significant Solar Installations

A. PV System Connected To The Existing Power Grid
The "grid connected photovoltaic" is an installation attached to the existing electricity
grid. In systems connected to the network, AC power standards consumers are
connected to the generator via an inverter (DC-AC converter) sometimes bidirectional
(rectifier / inverter). The surplus energy from the photovoltaic generator is injected to
the grid and power applications that require the generator capacity are attached to the
network (FIGURE 3).

Figure 3: Photovoltaic System Connected To The Network

B. Photovoltaic Standalone Installation
The stand-alone photovoltaic system isolated or "stand-alone" is not connected to the
network, but it must ensure coverage of the load demand at all times. The power
output of the PV generator (PV) is not sufficient to meet load demand, as the
autonomy of the system is ensured by an energy storage system. Generally this
installation comprises four main components (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Standalone Photovoltaic Installation


Franois Ntambwe Kadinda

Each component of a photovoltaic installation plays a specific role for optimal

operation and most economical. The photovoltaic module directly converts sunlight
into direct current electricity, while the control system makes the connection between
the photovoltaic modules, batteries and appliances major consumers of (the
controller) protects the battery against overload and deep discharge. As for
accumulator batteries, it stores the electrical energy produced by the photovoltaic
panels. The inverter converts the direct current into alternating current, while the
receivers and consumers of photovoltaic energy to be chosen among the possible
economic appliances in order to optimize specific performance of a photovoltaic
The stand-alone photovoltaic systems need to provide for renewal of the batteries
every eight to ten years. This cost to budget is around 10-15% of the original total
price of the PV array. By construction, investments are high and the use of this
technology requires a very detailed analysis of the needs and the mandatory use of
high-performance appliances characterized by the lowest possible energy
Finally, the positive environmental aspects are not negligible. Indeed, the operation
of photovoltaic system is free from noise or odor nuisance. It requires no additional
power line and do not directly or indirectly involved in environmental pollution.
Finally, the operation of a photovoltaic system generates virtually no waste.
Economically, although the investment of the start of a PV system is relatively
heavy, when making a comparison during its estimated life of about 30 years with
power supply provided by the national electricity grid, for almost the last two-thirds
of its existence it (photovoltaic system) is consumed for free.
C. Hybrid photovoltaic installation
It is a combination of the previous two systems (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Hybrid Photovoltaic Installation

One or more PV modules;
A control system;
One or more storage batteries,
An inverter.

Photovoltaic Energy: Future of The Industrial Development of The African et. al. 103
D. Simple flow sheet for photovoltaic cell manufacturing
As seen in Figure 6, a number of steps is required to pass the quartz to finished
photovoltaic module. Refining silicon is done in two stages: firstly the extraction of
the silicon quartz ore, then the purification of this silicon by various techniques. Once
purified, it will be in the form of plates and activated by a series of specific
treatments. Photovoltaic cells will be assembled and mounted in the modules.

Figure 6: sequence of steps for producing a crystalline silicon photovoltaic module

Energy Supply of Africa

A. Major energy zones
According to the Intergovernmental Agency of the Francophonie (AIF), Africa is
divided into three distinct energy zones:
North Africa, largely dependent on oil and gas;
South Africa, with a well-developed infrastructure and dominated by the
production of coal-based electricity;
The rest of sub-Saharan Africa has poorly developed infrastructure and
therefore very limited access to modern energy services. It therefore remains
heavily dependent on energy from traditional biomass.
B. Overall energy consumption in Africa
Currently, about 530 million AFRICAN have no access to electricity, and no remedy
was brought to this situation, this could even climb to 600 million in 2030
(FAVENNEC, 2009).
Compared to people in other continents as shown inTable 4.1, an African
consumes 0.3 TPE (tonnes of oil equivalent) per year on average, against nearly 7.8
TPE per year for a US PET and 4 per year for a European.
Below, we present some data on renewable energy in Africa:


Franois Ntambwe Kadinda

Hydropower: The total installed capacity amounted to 20.3 GW while
production is 77,000 GWh for a potential of 4,000,000 GWh. The largest
hydroelectric potential is concentrated in only 8 African countries:
Geothermal Energy: The potential is 9,000 MW, operated especially in the
Wind energy: including 29% of the world are in Africa. Nearly 10 GW can be
installed in 2020, particularly in south Africa, Algeria, CAPE VERDE,
Thermal Solar and / or photovoltaic: 47% of the continent AFRICAN receives
sunshine than 2100 kWh / m2 while the rest of the world harvest that from
1500 to 1900 kWh / m2.
Solar energy is therefore the only energy almost equaly distributed across the
continent AFRICAN and can achieve much of the continent's population
without using very complex traditional transmission and distribution of
energy, expensive and difficult to manage.
Table 1: Annual energy consumption per person in the world and Continent
consumption rate compared to the world consumption



Percentage based on the world


C. Prospects for industrial development of the African Continent

The development of the African continent could involve solar energy. The poorest
continent on the planet continues to seek long-term development solutions. Often the
solutions envisaged, whether economic or social, go through financing
(indispensable) States Westerners because capital bluntly lacking in this part of the
world. The problem lies in the fact that Africa cannot borrow capital to rich countries
to finance its development projects. Indeed, many countries have reached such levels

Photovoltaic Energy: Future of The Industrial Development of The African et. al. 105
of debt that they cannot decently consider foreign funding because they could not
repay their loans. Photovoltaic energy could be one of the best tracks to be exploited
for electricity generation in a continent where in rural areas, only one in ten has a
connection to the electricity network if network there, which is far be the case
everywhere ...
The equipment photovoltaic panels could be very beneficial one hand to supply the
majority of photovoltaic remote populations who have no access to anything, and
secondly, to develop the industrial sector, in the case of the majority of African
countries, there have been no significant progress since the massive independence to
the 1960s in some cases a relatively large delay in development is growing.
D. Obstacles sociological development of photovoltaics
Photovoltaic energy is very expensive to set up and most African countries can not
afford to equip mass population of photovoltaic panels.For now, the photovoltaic
market is stimulated by the triad countries (US, Europe and Japan) and therefore
aimed primarily to customers in these countries. This technology is still very new, the
price of a PV system is still very high and is still inaccessible to the majority of
Africans. This will require a few more years for that, thanks to economies of scale,
prices drop and make this product affordable to Africans peoples.
Another significant barrier is that, solar energy has a bad image in some African
countries. Indeed, some people believe that this "energy of the poor" will prevent
them from being connected to a conventional power grid, something they fear a lot.
Some programs run by NGOs have even had to be stopped because of the
unwillingness of local people to do install photovoltaic panels in their villages, so that
this energy could have simplified their lives in many ways ... To generalize this type
facilities in Africa, it will require that governments make up awareness campaigns
among the populations concerned about the benefits of this clean energy.
But some African countries have already understood the benefits they could derive
photovoltaic installations for very remote rural areas of the cities and whose
connection to the power grid would be very expensive. Projects are seeing the day
everywhere in Africa. This is particularly the case in MADAGASCAR (one of the
poorest countries in the world) where the government and NGOs are studying the
feasibility of linking rural hospitals to autonomous photovoltaic panels as power
outages are common in this country with a rapid population growth (as is the case in
almost all African countries) and, hence, can not connect to the network its entire
population. This would make a lot of money especially since many drugs are lost
when there are power outages and refrigerators do not work.
Other African countries like GHANA BURKINA FASO and voted for tax
incentives and launched microcredit (kinds of eco-loan) in order to help their
populations to be equipped with photovoltaic solar kits repayable in 24 or 36 months.
E. Global Context
Since the 1990s, photovoltaic energy has experienced very strong growth due to the
willingness of some states of the developed countries to take into account the


Franois Ntambwe Kadinda

depletion of fossil resources and environmental problems caused by conventional

production methods.
And the production and installation of photovoltaic modules have increased tenfold
in a dozen years (Figure 7).

Figure 7: Evolution of the world production of photovoltaic cells in MWp / year

This growth was generated by the granting of financial assistance from
governments and the establishment of production lines by companies related to the oil
sector in particular (BP and Shell). Thus, the segment of network connected and
decentralized systems integrated into buildings was a fairly significant development in
relation to other photovoltaic applications, including JAPAN, GERMANY,
This enthusiasm for photovoltaics in Developed Countries allowed not only to gain
a technological maturity (including for large projects), but also a steady decline in
production costs of the modules, the most expensive component of a plant (Figure 9).

Photovoltaic Energy: Future of The Industrial Development of The African et. al. 107

Figure 8: Installed Power Photovoltaic Systems, By Market Segment and Country In


Figure 9: Evolution of The Price of Photovoltaic Module

A photovoltaic dynamic is now, for already almost fifteen years to see more, to
create all over the world. The enthusiasm and commitment of some governments,
technological maturity and lower production costs that are generally associated with


Franois Ntambwe Kadinda

the development of an activity, suggests that more and more countries will prefer the
photovoltaic solution.

Due to the fast depletion of fossil fuel in the world due to the high rate of use, the
actual industrial searchers tend to maximise and optimise the use of renewable energy
in the world.
As in its objective, the present paper shows the potential of solar energy in Africa,
for an industrial use as seen that 47% of the continent AFRICAN receives sunshine
than 2100 kWh / m2 while the rest of the world harvest that from 1500 to 1900 kWh /
m2. As seen in the fig 1 we can observe the intensity gradient of the solar shine in the
world and observe that the average sunlight period in hour is maximum in the zone of
Sahara and Kalahari deserts.
We can conclude that the African continent is very attractivefor the solar energy
extraction, so with an average of 6 hours per days the extraction can go at amaximum
value of 12600 kw /m2 for theSahara and the Kalahari desertsareas. But as per the
question asked, in the title the research remain open and need to be pushed on the
attractive region for different searchers in the world.


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