Alfen constructs energy system for sustainable cacao production in Nigeria

Netherlands-based energy distribution and storage specialist Alfen is constructing a large and sustainable energy installation for the Theobroma cacao factory in Nigeria.

According to Alfen, this system combines solar energy, bioenergy from cocoa shells and large-scale battery storage for the sustainable production of energy and steam. It guarantees a reliable energy supply and attains a considerable saving on both operational costs and carbon emissions, including an annual saving of over a million litres of diesel.

Diesel generators

Theobroma, headquartered in Amsterdam and part of global sustainable commodity merchant Ecom, processes cocoa beans into high-end cacao products for the chocolate industry.

According to Alfen, as the energy grid in Nigeria is not “always reliable”, Theobroma’s factory in Lagos currently uses diesel generators.

Diesel however, is a polluting and expensive fuel, and its local supply is not always guaranteed as well, causing expensive interruptions in the production process, according Theobroma. Theobroma therefore opted for a sustainable alternative that guarantees the continuity and cuts the expensive operational costs.

Solar energy, battery storage and bioenergy

The company Alfen from Almere, the Netherlands, was awarded the contract to build a sustainable end-to-end energy installation.

More than 8,000 solar panels will be installed on the roofs and at the factory terrain of Theobroma. To optimally use the generated electricity, Alfen combined this solar energy with its in-house developed battery storage system.

Sales engineer Energy Storage at Alfen, Evert Raaijen, said: “With two energy storage systems of approximately 1MWh each, this is the largest local energy storage project in Nigeria. With the combination of solar energy and battery storage, we expect to help Theobroma attain an annual saving of over one million liters of diesel.”

In addition to the solar energy system, bioenergy is also produced with the cocoa bean waste of the Theobroma factory.

Raaijen said:  “The installation we’re building for Theobroma is a combination of system innovations, integrated with existing solutions. We are highly specialised in complex system integrations with energy storage solutions such as these systems.

“Theobroma will be able to remotely monitor performance with our back office system, while maximum savings are attained with smart power management features. Furthermore, this installation is a modular system, which enables quick and easy future upscaling.”

Alfen expects to complete this facility for Theobroma in 2018.

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