A new approach to energy production in Congo

9 septembre 2021

the inventors

The seventh Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), which aims to "ensure access for all to reliable, sustainable and modern energy services at an affordable cost", is based on the fact that the quality of access to energy is decisive in the development of a country or community. Reliable and quality access to energy services is fundamental to diversification and sustainable economic growth.

In Congo, however, the quality of access to energy remains low; several households still live without electricity in cities and this reality is felt even more in rural areas. The natural resources enjoyed by the country represent substantial opportunities for development in the face of increasingly constraining challenges in the supply of energy. However, it is often through challenging times that human beings show the most ingenuity.

The current energy situation in Congo, although difficult, has incited some people to find innovative solutions to help them cope with the problem. This is the case of Vital VITCHUM with its plant pile, identified by our caravan on innovation (Precise date). The process set up by this Congolese innovator consisting in producing energy from plants. This solution, still unknown locally, is positioned as a decentralized solution for low-income households and the thorny issue of access to energy in the country.

Plants as a source of energy

The process of the identified plant battery consists of installing two electrodes on the roots of a plant and connecting them by the electrical wires to collect the energy voltage and then convert it using a converter to obtain an energy source. This power source can give up to 1.5 Amps (A); allowing to power a light bulb and a television set for at least 12 hours, functioning as a battery that stores energy during the day and releases it at night.

Does it work?

AccLab Congo in partnership with the innovator behind the solution has initiated a validation process to understand, evaluate and test it with a view to integrating it as a proven tool that can be used for local development. To accomplish this, the energy voltage produced by different plant species was measured using a multimeter whose values vary between 16 and 21 Volts in direct current, converted using a converter to give a voltage of 220 Volts.

The results and indicators collected were the prerequisites for a pilot initiative in the city of Pointe. Three households in the outlying districts were selected and connected for a month to this energy source with three different plant species: (i) citrus fruits (ii) Eucalyptus and (iii) avocado trees. After observation, the results of the pilot initiative have made it possible to understand this energy can be converted into alternating current that can allow the provision of public lighting. It has also been observed that the quality of the energy generated varies from one species to another; the tension being higher with avocado trees, and very low with Eucalyptus, which opens up an opportunity for further research to optimize the process.

AccLab Congo et Communication PNUD