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Total Inaugurates Ethiopia’s First Solar Powered Fuel Station

Tigrai Online
Dec. 20 2011

Solar powered fuel station - Tigrai Online

A 14-year old fuel station of Total Ethiopia, located on the Djibouti corridor, is outfitted to operate using solar power, having been inaugurated on Saturday, December 17, 2011. Located in Diciotto, 659km from the capital, in Afar Regional State, the fuel station is the first of its kind in Ethiopia.

Although converting the station to run on solar power was completed six months ago, the inauguration came only now, as it had been under testing. Total Ethiopia had approached Tenesol, a subsidiary company of Total World Group, to provide the photovoltaic solar technology. The project, which cost around one million Br, was undertaken by Vera International Business Plc, its local partner established in 2007 with a paid-up capital of 8.5 million Br.

Although the plan was to install a solar powered fuel station in Addis Abeba, this was later modified. Since the station in the capital uses electricity generated from virtually clean hydropower, it was decided to install it in Afar, according to Antione Tournand, managing director of Total Ethiopia.

The electricity provided to us in the capital comes from the national grid, largely generated from a clean source of energy,” Tournand told to Fortune. It was more cost-effective and better served our purpose to cut fuel expenses in an area where we used generators.”

The fuel station in Diciotto, one of the 186 Total Ethiopia has in the country, used to run on two generators.

Located on one of the highways to Djibouti Port, this station is one of the busiest, with monthly sales of 500 cubic metres of fuel.

Installing solar panels at this station took two years to complete. The photovoltaic panels now supply 230V of alternating current (AC) and 13.4 kWh of energy per day. All the electrical operations, including fuel pumps, computers, lights, and a TV and fridge at the station, now run on solar power with one generator used for backup.

Using alternative energy sources can be cost-effective for fuel companies, as well, according to Tournand.

We try to use the best available and applicable energy sources whenever possible,” he told Fortune. Fuel is the best alternative for transportation because it is liquid, mobile, and compact, but there are uses where alternative energies are more effective and cost-friendly.”  

The world is going to need all energy sources available, within the next 20 years, according to Tournand.

It benefits Total to not only serve as a fuel company, he says. The company is now selling two kinds of solar powered lamps, which cost 800 Br and 279 Br, as alternatives to kerosene lamps used in many Ethiopian households.

They are a cleaner and healthier alternative, which is better in the long-term for Total to sell, even if it competes against our Kerosene sales,” Tournand told Fortune.