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Solar Nanogrid Innovation for Affordable Energy Solutions

French-Malagasy company, Nanoé have developed a solar nanogrid innovation that has already been helping to uplift communities located in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas.

This innovation is now further developed as part of the British government-funded IMPHORAA project and has already been successfully field tested in Madagascar.

Over 200 villages across Madagascar have already benefitted from the deployment of around 1,500 nanogrids that use a lateral electrification model developed by the IMPHORAA project team, creating a bottom-up 21st Century smart power infrastructure in the country.

These nanogrids can cover four to six contiguous households, providing energy for lighting, phone charging, radio, mixed media and more. The clustering of these nanogrids into village level microgrids and municipal minigrids provides a powerful and sustainable solution that can lift millions of people from poverty.

One of the largest barriers to microgrid deployment is cost, with each of these grids usually costing at least US$1000 to deploy. However, IMPHORAA solved this challenge for disadvantaged, rural communities by allowing investment to be made in successive tranches according to local energy requirements.

In the short term, this means providing photovoltaic panels, nanongrid controls, cooling storage and water pumping solutions to unelectrified and unenergised communities. In the longer term, this access will enable local entrepreneurialism through the building, operation, maintenance and marketing of the systems as well as delivering increased sustainability.

Already field-tested in Madagascar, the IMPHORAA project solution is now due to be implemented in San Antonio, Zambales.

John Defensor of Quantum Leap Marketing, who are to help deploy IMPHORAA in the Philippines, explained, “Port Silanguin is an isolated island with no road network, no electricity, no potable water system – the perfect place for a solar nanogrid. It is 33 kilometres away from mainland Zambales and travel time by boat is about two to 2.5 hours each way, costing P250. Its inhabitants are mostly fisherfolk, who spend about P800 to P1,200 for a block of ice.”

Defensor continued, “I think the IMPHORAA system is a good solution, especially in the Philippines because we still have many islands without electricity, just like Port Silanguin. With the IMPHORAA system, the local population will have access to electricity and water pumps; pressurised systems and filtration can then be built. Once the system is in place, the inhabitants of Port Silanguin do not have to travel to the city to get clean drinking water. They can purchase it from whoever will be managing the water filtration system within the island. This is a game-changer in their lifestyle and can impact rural electrification more broadly once microgrids are connected to bigger power infrastructures.”

Nicolas Saincy, the founder of and CEO of French-Malagasy social venture Nanoé, who implemented the social venture in Madagascar, revealed, “The main advantage of this approach when compared to building from the start a microgrid for an entire village is that investments can be done progressively. We believe this is a game-changer in microgrid or rural electrification economics because the main obstacle to the large-scale deployment of microgrids is the high upfront cost.”

Saincy added, “The technology is quite simple and it’s quite cheap, so it puts the rural electrification activity at the financial and technical reach of local entrepreneurs that can be informal and do not need to have a PhD or engineering degrees to start this kind of activity.”

Led by Manchester-based software solutions provider, Technovative Solutions, the IMPHORAA consortium includes Nanoé; world-leading research and technology organization TWI; Brunel University London; and Quantum Leap Marketing. They collaborated on hardware, software and business model innovations to make the rural electrification solutions viable.

The IMPHORAA project is replicating a lateral electrification model that allows the implementation of photovoltaic panels on homes and at points of interest for rural communities such as schools and at roadsides where the stalls are kept. These panels are maintained by the community itself and offer ample off-grid electricity. Another benefit from the IMPHORAA project is the inclusion of water pumps, which could allow for further entrepreneurship and opportunities. This can also ease the burden of household chores which also frees up more time for business and work opportunities for people, not to mention the task of fetching water, which many families still have to journey for every day. 



The partners of the IMPHORAA project are inviting you to the first ever event in Manila, Philippines to present this highly innovative electrification model and social entrepreneurship concept to all interested parties.

The event will take place at the Shangri-la Hotel The Fort, Manila on 6 February, 2023 at 13.00pm and everyone involved in the energy sector, municipalities, community leaders and energy financing professionals are welcome.


This project is supported by Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst Programme (funding by the Foreign, Commonwealth Development Office through their Transforming Energy Access Programme) and UK aid and was awarded as a “subsidy” under the UK International Obligations for Subsidy Control and delivered under Grant 90935 from Innovate UK