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close this book Sustainable Energy News. - No. 15 November 1996
close this folder South / Central America
View the document Oil Company TOTAL Enters the Solar Market

Oil Company TOTAL Enters the Solar Market

By Britta Schmidt, Solélec, Guadeloupe

Solélec Caraibes, a subsidiary of the group TOTAL, the second largest French petroleum company, is now entering the South/Central American and Caribbean solar photovoitaic market.

Solélec has been headquartered in Guadaloupe, French West Indies since 1984, and since 1995 has had branch offices in Martinique, Guyana, and Haiti. It is specialised in the design, installation, maintenance, and provision of training for photovoltaic systems, electrification of homes vaccine refrigerators, airport and waterway beacons, telecommunications, and water-pwnping systems.

Together with the Region of Guadeloupe, the EDF (Electricite de France) and the ADAME, (French regional Agency for the Environment and Energy Conservation), Solélec has successfully initiated and carried out a program which allows it to provide electricity to otherwise isolated areas. Essentially, Solélec functions as a utility company, requesting payment for electricity used.

Guadeloupe, an island with 420,000 inhabitants, has seen an explosion in the development of renewable energies. Currently, it boasts an installed capacity of I Mega Watt peak (1,000,000 Wp in other words 20,000 panels) in solar photovoltaic electricity. I,000 homes of 600 to 1,000 Wp power are outfitted with solar energy. In 1996, 3.6 kWp have been installed on Guadeloupe, Martinique, and French Guayana. shortened and edited by editors)

More information: Solélec Caraibes, 41 rue Henri Becquerel 97/22 Baie-AIahault, Gundeloupe.

Ph/fax: + 1-590-267879/-267448, email: solelec@,

An 80-m2 solar panel system installed by Solélec in October, 1996 at the national monument, the citadel "La Ferrière': in Haïti. The total installed capacity is 7 kW. The restoration of the citadel built in 1820 is supported by the Ministry of Culture, the UNDP, and UNESCO.

SUNCASH is a new product developed by TOTAL Energie that facilitates the collection of payment from the user of the solar installation in isolated areas.

The user pays the local "agent", (which could be a local food shop owner) a certain amount of "days" of energy. The amount of payment (connection, rental, maintenance) is specified in a contract with the supplier. The agent provides a code which the consumer enters on the numerical keyboard located on a box at his installation. A display permanently shows the remaining days. Green, orange, and red indicators attract the user's attention reminding when does it expires and when he has to return to the local agent to purchase another amount of days.

The number of unit bought by the consumer (days for isolated sites, kWh for grid connections, or m3 for pumping applications) can be varied depending on the financial capability of the consumer.

The SUNCASH eliminates the need for cards, keys, and/or coins which traditional systems required in the past. It also eliminates the need of labor for the collection of payments due. It increases the price of a system with less than 200 US$, or about 25% of the price of a 45 Wp solar home system.