08 Sep 2017
Casablanca, Morocco
Renewable energy and energy efficiency

With its ever-growing popularity, solar seems to be the new environmentally friendly and low-impact energy source everyone is opting for. It offers the opportunity to significantly reduce the use of fossil fuels, thus contributing to the energy transition from nonrenewable to renewable. The prospect of reducing one’s heating costs and ensuring a certain independence from state institutions is another potential benefit —. especially if it contributes to preserving the environment at the same time.

Energy efficiency was one of the main motivators for two aspiring engineers who, after university graduation, were determined to revolutionize the way energy is consumed and produced in Morocco and rural communities in Africa.

Karim El Alami and Cyril Colin met at UC Berkeley in California, while studying for their double degrees in civil and environmental engineering. Driven to develop a less expensive and more efficient solar technology, the 27-year-old pair designed a software to manage and reduce electricity bills. They called it ELUM.

Morocco, a major North African country with no fossil fuel to rely on, is planning to source 42% of energy from renewables by 2020, and 52% by 2030.

That energy software manages the use of batteries in virtual power plants, which are decentralized networks of independent power systems. The software helps everyone from individual homeowners to large industrial and commercial buildings benefit from their own energy generation.

The concept of optimizing energy efficiency through local battery storage allows utilization in accordance with location and renewable energy availability. Using batteries to categorize customers based on their consumption needs provides better forecast and information for the future.

The software system has already been implemented in in a factory Tangier and will be deployed in Casablanca for a telecom operator and other areas of the country before further expansions in Nigeria, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Senegal. “We hope to establish a strong presence in Africa with Morocco as a base,” says El Alami.

Energy planning using software solutions such as Elum is important, says Yasmine Berrada a project manager at Espace Bidaya, an incubator for social and green startups in Casablanca. “It is a key driver in the developing economy, not only for households but also for factories, where energy can represent up to 40% of the total cost of the industry,” she added.

Many problems, one solution:

Most of today’s industrial buildings are dependent on a single centralized electrical source, such as a traditional power plant, which makes them vulnerable in the case of service outages. Relying on one electrical source also increases electricity tariffs.

“The objective is to reduce the electricity bill by 20% for the industrial sector and greenhouse gas emissions by 30%,” El Alami says. “Our artificial intelligence algorithms is aimed at reducing the amount of electricity produced by diesel generators.”

Elum also employed sophisticated algorithms to compare actual energy generation with expected energy generation based on the client’s system’s previous performance, the performance of other systems in the database, and weather conditions.

“When it comes to maximizing energy production, information is power,” El Alami said. “The data collection instrument provides detailed information to give a picture on system performance and local weather conditions.”

This data perfectly shows how the inclusion of batteries in solar schemes can enable connecting more PV panels, without the need for further network reinforcement. By linking the batteries in a virtual power plant, Elum will also be able to provide services that make the wider electricity grid more efficient, greener and cheaper to run.

El Alami & Colin seem to have begun, but they have been reaping success in France and beyond: the two were the winners of French Tech Ticket, an annual French program which attracts the best international entrepreneurs in France. They were received by the former French president, François Hollande and President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysée in March 2017 to receive their title. Elum also won the Africa Rethink Awards competition that was organized within the COP21.

 

Website: http://elum-energy.com/en/my-front-page/

Facebook: https://web.facebook.com/eLumEnergy/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/eLum_energy

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company-beta/10314419/

Photos: Courtesy of Elum

Oumeima is a writer and a translator by day, a blogger by night. Right now, she is helping green and social entrepreneurs find their voices and tell their stories.Oumeima Boughanmi
A Moroccan startup is revolutionizing solar energy production and consumption | The Switchers
Elum Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency
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