Toutoukpe’s Panacea. From the Kyoto agreements to the Pollutec fair in Lyon, France last December, achieving renewable energy for all remains the biggest challenge of our era. Mr Bruno Dangba Toutoukpe, engineer and founder of Ivoire W3E (a renewable energy company based in Ivory Coast and Great Britain) speaks to The Bridge Magazine about the future of renewable energy in Africa and the rest of the world.
Kicking off a new year with renewed energy remains at the heart of many resolutions in 2015, especially when it comes to ‘renewable energy’.
Renewable energy is the zeitgeist: in this spirit, France hosted the 26th Eurexpo international exhibition of environmental equipments technologies and services from December 2nd to 5th 2014, in Lyon.
To enhance the great potential of the Africa continent in terms of investment opportunities in this booming sector, Ivory Coast was the guest nation of honour, facilitating as it currently is more than 60 practical projects related to environment and energy.
The French Minister of Environment and Energy, Madame Ségolène Royal, who inaugurated the fair
and presented its business & environment awards, noted the leading role played by Pollutec to support the ecological transition.
During her speech she mentioned her law on ‘energetic transition’, which can be summarised as followed: cut the energy consumption in half by 2050, reduce the consumption of fossil fuels by 30% by 2030; lower the amount of electricity generated from nuclear reactors from 75 to 50% by 2025.
On the other side of the channel, the British Department of Trade and Industry intends to invest £50 million in renewable energy of marine origin.
Britain is also planning to launch the largest offshore wind farm in the world in an attempt to rise to the unprecedented challenge of ensuring renewable energy exceeds that of nuclear power, by 2018.
Pollutec brings together professionals from around the world to discuss advanced and original solutions that reduce dramatically the impact of human activities on the environment, in industry, local authorities, and the service sector.
Clean Energy for All is the slogan of Ivoire W3E, the company which specialises in water, energy and ICT (Information and Communication Technologies).
- Renewable energy, meaning and value.
What is Renewable Energy?
The term refers to naturally and continuously replenished energy often generated from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides and geothermal heat. Renewable energy technologies range from solar power, wind power, hydroelectricity, micro hydro, biomass and biofuels for transportation.
Renewable energy is also called ‘alternative energy’ because it is an alternative option to using fossil fuels. Broadly speaking, it refers to energies that are non-traditional and have low environmental impact.
These energies cannot be exhausted and are constantly renewed.
- Why is renewable energy important?
The development of renewable energy appears as the best way to meet the energy needs of the planet, which could increase by 50% or more by 2030, according to experts.
Sources of good health, renewable energies are effective and provide a healthy alternative to high-emitting fossil energies and greenhouse gasses responsible for climate change.
Renewable energy enables greater energy independence.
Primary energy sources producing electricity, such as coal, gas and oil, are becoming scarce, with prices going through the roof. In contrast, renewable energy depends on abundant resources directly available, such as the sun, wind, water, wood, biomass, and natural heat generated from the earth. These sources provide a safe and timeless supply of energy.
The renewable energy sector also creates jobs opportunities, while fostering the emergence of new industrial and technological fields.
Renewable energy means lower CO2 emissions and less pollution than energy from fossil sources.
Environmental renewable energy technologies are clean sources of energy with a much lower environmental impact.
The predicted global temperature rises may bring extreme and unpredictable weather patterns, rising sea levels and water shortages, which will conceivably contribute to famine, drought, the spread of disease and political unrest.
Renewable energy will never run out, it will benefit future generations.
Ivory Coast’s guest appearance at Eurexpo 2014 was nothing random: the West African nation’s geographical position on the world map and its endless potential for producing renewable energy made it the new ‘beauty spot’ of global economic development.
Ivory Coast is blessed with an essential asset, which is crucial for any solar power installations: its size and its almost unlimited sunshine, which are essential for the installation of solar power plants. According to a study conducted by the Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa (UEMOA) and the Ivory Coast Directorate of New and Renewable Energy:
‘Ivory Coast has the solar fields, wind and untapped biomass, and an almost permanent sunshine lasting for six hours a day, and an average total energy of about 4-5 kWh per m2 in a day’.
The production of renewable energy could enable Ivory Coast to become totally independent and ensure the supply of electricity to its interconnected neighbouring countries of the sub-region.
The process of “global warming” is accelerating. Protecting the biosphere remains one of the major concerns of our era. Today, nearly all scientists agree that we must stop and reverse this process now, or face a devastating cascade of natural disasters.
In a bid to set emission reduction targets for industrialised countries, the UN Kyoto Conventions (Japan, 1997) have already helped stabilise, and in some cases reduce, emissions in several countries.
At the 2011 UN Climate Change Conference in Durban (South Africa), world governments decided to adopt a universal legal agreement on climate change by 2020.
According to a recent report by the International Agency for Renewable Energies (IRENA), Africa has the potential and ability to make renewable energy the main engine of its’ economic growth.
- A dream comes true
The issue of electricity, water and sanitation in Africa remains the most urgent in international development.
The development of renewable energy in Africa could enable peoples and governments to tackle huge and complex issues of energy insecurity, and health and safety.
Frequent untimely power cuts in hospitals, private health centres and many other services remain crucial problems in terms of energy insecurity in Africa, and a significant obstacle to development.
Renewable energy at affordable prices for all is what Ivoire W3E offers.
– Health and safety –
Africa is awash with energy resources but the continent remains the one that consumes less energy per capita in the world. According to statistics, Africa is home to 80% of the 1.5 billion people living without electricity in the world.
One in four Africans has access to energy sources such as electricity. These African energy insecurity problems are likely, according to some experts, to worsen if governments are not ready to integrate them into their development strategies and targets.
- Renewable Energy and geopolitical peace.
For some, finding a link between renewable energy and peace is a nonsense. But it is not: there would be more political stability if renewable energy was available to states.
The geopolitics of oil
Oil is a highly strategic resource frequently associated with international conflicts since the beginning of the 20th century, particularly in the Middle East.
With nearly two thirds of the world’s oil reserves estimated at 40% of gas reserves, the Middle East has become a fundamental point of production covering a substantial part of the world’s largest energy needs.
However, with the expansion of alternative energy, there should be less war for oil, and more peace, as powerful countries would have less recourse to military or economic pressure if they had access to cleaner energy.
Mr Bruno Dangba Toutoukpe, business founder of Ivoire W3E, talks to The Bridge Magazine about his company, the future of renewable energy in Ivory Coast, Africa and worldwide.
1. You have invested in a booming sector as the founder of a renewable energy company. Tell us more about Ivorie W3E.
Ivoire w3E was formed in 2012 by three founding partners comprising engineers and technicians with multidisciplinary skills. Ivoire W3E is a company based in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, with a subsidiary in London (UK).
Ivoire W3E specialises in the engineering of water, energy and ICT (Information and Communication Technologies).
Its mission is to make available for the Ivorian population and its sub-region innovative solutions adaptable to their living conditions for sustainable development, sustainable industries, and sustainable communal healthcare.
- Why W3E? Is it a chemical formula?
W3E is an English abbreviation for Water & Electrical Energy Engineering, the organisation’s fields of expertise. The company was initially launched without the ICT concept; however, that subdivision for electric power, small electrical currents for computer or electronic was added later on.
- You were part of the official institutional stand hosted by the delegation accompanying the Ivory Coast Ministry of Environment, Urban Health and Sustainable Development at the 26th Eurexpo international exhibition of environmental equipments technologies and services, in Lyon, 2014. Can you share your impressions as a professional, in terms of institutional stakeholders, involved in projects, investment and opportunities?
It was an honour to be part of the team and to be the only renewable energy company entrusted to conduct the institutional stance of the Ivory Coast. Ivoire W3E seized the opportunity to highlight its’ expertise and attract potential investors in Ivory Coast.
The renewable energy transition fair was an opportunity for Africa to exchange and collaborate with participants, business and technology partnerships, European operators, and the rest of the world.
The show for the environment and energy industries was rewarding. Ivory Coast has found partners for 60 projects, representatives and investments estimated at 1,350 million euros.
Five sectors were represented at the Ivorian stand: water/sanitation, energy, climate change, waste, air, and ecotourism.
- Global warming, or nuclear waste, appears to be the biggest dilemma of the modern era. What do you think?
Natural phenomena, such as changes in solar activity and volcanic eruptions, do have an impact on climate change but their effect appears relatively small compared to the impact of rising CO2 concentrations.
Economic development and the development each of us taken individually is synonymous with pollution, environmental degradation (soil, water and landscape.)
Deforestation, the use of terrestrial air, rail and sea, come with the production of a high volume of carbon dioxide, which impacts on climate change.
But it would be a waste of time to ask anyone to reduce or stop their activities for the planet’s interest.
However, with the appropriate information, culture, laws, and general awareness can be successfully raised. With education and discipline, people around the world can become more aware of the issues. This could possibly bring everyone to put the interests of the planet first.
This initiative has already started with the Kyoto Protocol, which, although very restrictive for developed countries and industries, has become quite dependant on using gas and oil in their industries, polluting the environment by so doing.
We believe that by developing renewable energy we could prevent an increase in ambient temperature of 6 ° C by the end of the century, and also significantly reduce the degradation of environment.
- Is ‘load shedding’ –which is to remove the power of a group of devices or clients to avoid saturation of the power supply– within Ivoire W3E’s expertise?
Yes, indeed, Ivoire W3E offers to its customers innovative and appropriate solutions, ranging from photovoltaic solar kits at competitive prices.
We offer both types of photovoltaic plants:
- Installing off-grid or stand-alone, which is to produce electricity through solar energy and whose local is not connected to a power grid (insulated website)
- Installation connected to the network (or ‘non-isolated’). In this, case the electricity produced is injected into the grid.
The energy is either directly consumed, or reduces the flow of energy provided by the domestic supplier, allowing to significantly reduce monthly electricity bills (systems ‘Plug & Store)
Alternatively, the energy produced is sold to a domestic company which will sell it in turn.
For solar kits we offer small portable solar power systems ranging from 60Wh to 1440Wh capable of powering DC or AC devices.
- Tell us about your products and explain how the ‘Plug & Store’ system can be used in areas with load shedding problems, to ensure uninterrupted power supply.
The ‘Plug & Store’ ‘or’ ‘Plug & Hybrid Power’ is one of our most popular products in high demand hospitals and private health care. The solution is appropriate for areas connected to the grid.
In areas with load shedding problems, Plug & Store system can guarantee an uninterrupted power supply. Generally, during the consumption of electrical power, the Plug & Store system also stores additional energy in its battery.
In case of power failure, all devices connected to the Hybrid system continue to be powered continuously. When power is restored again by the energy supplier, the system automatically assigns the supply of energy to the grid, and starts to charge its battery.
- Tell us about Ivory Coast’s renewable energies potential
Africa in general and Ivory Coast in particular are experiencing rapid economic growth. For such growth to be sustainable, it requires a strong investment in the energy sector. Africa is awash with fossil and renewable energies, but only 20% of its population has direct access to electricity.
Yet the sun is abundant and could provide a natural, clean and free energy. There is an urgent need for African governments to develop renewable energy sectors and make solar energy available and affordable for all, especially as the cost of a solar installation is believed to be very high.
On the social standpoint, access to electricity promotes access to water, telecommunications, education and health, known as ‘essential reach’, the objectives of the Millennium Goals.
- To quote you: “For an electric power isolated system, Ivoire W3E offers technological solutions at competitive prices” – What is the standard price? What price do you offer?
The price of electrical energy isolated systems differs from one state to another and the selected system (wind, photovoltaic, biomass …). Ivory Coast imports renewable energy systems from abroad.
The total cost for the supply and installation of photovoltaic solar panels may vary with equipment used, and the proposed safeguards, and difficulties lie in installing solar panels on the roof. It takes between 7,000,000 and 8,000,000 CFA francs CFA TTC for installation of solar panels off grid 3 KWC 2015.
Ivoire W3E offers competitive prices and solutions with even ‘carryable’ kits at very low costs.
- Which various development sectors can renewable energy installations benefit the most?
Renewable energy installations are useful at all levels. What is needed above all is to reduce significantly the emissions of greenhouse gases. Nevertheless, the development of renewable energy would benefit villagers as it will improve the quality of rural life.
- What types of devices are solar energy systems and energy system off-grids or ‘stand alones’ capable of powering?
All electrical equipment in AC or DC can be powered by photovoltaic installations, on one condition: the power of all devices should be lower than that proposed in the output of the solar system. Renewable energy is an inexhaustible primary energy, natural and very long term, related to the energy of the sun, the earth or gravity. Renewable energy is called clean because they emit less CO2 and less polluting than energy from fossil sources.
- Do you believe in a ‘Southeast Asian miracle’? Can we have the same ‘miracle’ in sub-Saharan Africa with renewable energy development?
Yes we can. We only need to work hard to get there. Africa is awash with endless natural resources (sunlight, wind, rivers etc.). Investing in the renewable energy field will enable the continent to achieve greater energy independence, and to prosper.
Ivoire W3E, with government support, aims at making its services available to those peoples living in remote rural areas.
- You are a professional in this field; what is your profile, university background, and those of your co-founders?
-Mr Bruno TOUTOUKPE Dangba:
Ivoire W3E founder
Electrical engineer and specialist in Renewable Energy, graduated from the National Institute of Technical Education (INSET) in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire, and from the University of Applied, Frankfurt, and the University of Technology in Darmstadt, Germany.
– Mr Serge AKOMIAN Akandan:
Ivoire W3E Co-Founder
Electrical Engineer FH Frankfurt, Specialist in Telecommunications. After a Masters in Physics at the University of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, trained in the University of Applied Sciences in Frankfurt, Germany.
Ms. Zainab MOHAMED:
Ivoire W3E Co-Founder
Accounting and Marketing Engineer, Grande Ecole, Abidjan, commercial and business management specialist, trained ISG-yoh (Higher Institute of Management -YÖH) in Ivory Coast.
- Do you have any hobbies?
- What is your favourite sport?
My hobbies are football, swimming, basketball and the game of Awalé.
The Awalé is a traditional game popular with Ivorian farmers.
- Considering that the main renewable energies are hydro, wind, biomass, solar, geothermal, marine, what are the different types of renewable energy in which Ivoire W3E is specialised?
Ivorie W3E specialises in solar energy, wind energy, biomass and small hydroelectricity.
- Ivory Coast is witnessing a tremendous economic boom in all sectors after the war…
Yes, especially in housing, tourism and agriculture. One of the strong testimonies is the relocation of the African Development Bank (ADB) of Ivory Coast. After being relocated for 11 years in Tunis, Tunisia, for security reasons, when the country was passing through a period of turbulence and political instability.
17. What is the position of Ivory Coast in terms of production and consumption of renewable energy?
The lack of investment and technical professionals in the field is still the issue. The production and utilization of renewable energy is almost non-existent in the Ivory Coast. This urges the authorities to reorganise the Ivorian energy policy to get the consumption rate up to 5% in 2015.
However, this situation is getting worse with the monopoly of power distribution at the national level by an Ivorian electricity company. There is a glimmer of hope as the legislative and legal frameworks are being put into place to free up the energy market in Ivory Coast.
- Will renewable energy become essential in Ivory Coast, in Africa and worldwide?
Renewable energy is the best way to meet the energy needs of the planet and to fight against climate change, because it emits less greenhouse gas. For the economic growth of a state, the energy conservation is vital. So, to achieve greater energy independence and avoid polluting fossil fuels, Ivory Coast, and Africa, should direct its energy policies towards greener energy. This would make it more possible to deal with problems of unemployment, by creating new jobs and career paths.
19. What are the steps put in place by the Ivorian Government to develop renewable energies? What are the accompanying measures and the attitude of banks and financial institutions in terms of supporting this entrepreneurship?
The Ivorian Government, anxious to reduce poverty, has engaged in a large-scale electrification policy. However, despite having an enormous capacity for energy production, it cannot cover the entire country due to lack of electrical infrastructure. So, to make a balance for that it needed to use renewable energy to serve remote areas.
The government is opening up the energy market more and more to independent power producers and suppliers by implementing a policy of flexibility: tax benefits and standardised power purchase agreements. To achieve its’ ambitions, Ivory Coast participates in seminars and international conferences to perfect his expertise.
20. What are the objectives of the European Union and Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa in the field of renewable energy?
The European (EU) Union, and Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa (UEMOA), and even the African Development Bank (AFDB), encourage African states to go for energy transition in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. All these great institutions are involved in the project, financing process to educate people on the well-founded interest to protect the environment.
21. Do you have competitors trading in the same sector in Ivory Coast? What is Ivoire W3E’s unique selling point?
Our French and Ivorian competitors are numerous and operate either in one or two of the following sectors: water, energy or ICT.
However, IvoireW3E is the only company in Ivory Coast which combines all the skills simultaneously covering all three sectors (water, energy, ICT) –because we are the people’s company. Our vision is to put all our skills to the service of people.
We believe a renewable energy company needs strong skills in three areas for a real emergence and sustainable development: while protecting the environment, we must eradicate poverty, have clean water, reduce water wastage, manage runoff water to avoid flooding, reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and make sure that communications are accessible to all. These are our goals.
- What are your ambitions for the next five years in terms of impact on social life and the average household’s shopping basket?
Our ambition is to make Ivoire W3E the beacon of companies working for the wellbeing of the Ivorian population. Starting from the villages, and then to the cities. Everything must be in place, and according to everyone’s means, to improve everyone’s life. At this level, we will put all our expertise into practice to provide solutions that fit each individual and community.
23. Your final word
The wellbeing of the Ivorian population and the sub-region is Ivoire W3E’s main concern. A successful partnership with potential investors is vital to this. Ivoire W3E puts its’ expertise and know-how to use to protect the environment and ensure sustainable development.
Mr Bruno Dangba Toutoukpe, thank you for taking time to open up to The Bridge Magazine.