Promotion of solar PV cooling in Burkina Faso

Ivan  Katic

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Promotion of solar PV cooling in Burkina Faso

Project start November 2017. Expected completion date October 2019.

Purpose of project
In Burkina Faso, the power sector is characterized by a chronic electricity shortage and power failure – especially during the hot season. Danish Technological Institute will work on this challenge in a new solar cooling project.

The overall purpose is to develop and demonstrate a new type of solar-powered air conditioning system that can be used in areas without a stable power supply.

In addition to the demonstration of how to use solar cooling in Burkina Faso, the main objective of the project is to demonstrate a financial concept that addresses the possibility of local private financing of energy services to ease the pressure on public finances and to contribute to an improved energy infrastructure and work efficiency.

Technically, the project will offer a smart solution to the power failure problem in hot countries by combining high efficient direct current and variable speed compressors, ice storage and solar air conditioning systems. In this project, expensive and short-lived batteries will partly be replaced by thermal storage. 

The system works like a normal solar PV system where the battery is charged during the daytime, but in this project, the battery is small and will become fully charged within short time after sunrise. Then, the cooling system will absorb the produced power and convert it to cold water and ice which is stored in a simple insulated tank.

When there is a need for air conditioning, the cold water is circulated to one or more fan coil units in the house. Secondary loads such as light, TV etc. are supplied from the battery. An electronic controller takes care of the battery charging, pumps, and fans.

First of all, the benefit is that the solution only has one central compressor with water storage which can handle several cooling units instead of usual air-conditioning with a (noisy) compressor in each room.

Specifically, two demonstration systems will be installed. These systems will be monitored and improved during the project, and at the end of the project their technical feasibility and economic viability will be demonstrated. Furthermore, a business plan for potential investors will be prepared.

The project will develop two types of energy systems:

  1. A system for office buildings, where approx. 80% of the energy use comprise cooling. This should cover the demand during the day and up to two hours after sunset.
  2. An energy kit for households which are not connected to the public power grid. The energy kit will consist of a solar PV system, an air condition with an ice storage unit, a refrigerator, three ceiling fans, ten lamps, and a TV.

The results of this project should convince household owners and office building owners to invest in solar PV as an energy source. In addition, the project should create a platform for new businesses.

The project is divided into three phases:

1. System design and demo site preparation. In this phase, the main focus is to agree on the basic design criteria for the two demonstration systems. Danish Technological Institute will assist with the necessary calculations and sizing as well as testing of the prototypes in a climate chamber. Furthermore, appropriate demo sites in Burkina Faso are identified and field tests are arranged.

2. Demo unit implementation and long term tests. The two units will be tested for six months. The test will provide practical experience with the technical performance as well as with the users’ satisfaction with the cooling service. A mid-term evaluation is planned, so that any malfunctions or problems can be solved before the end of the test run.

3. System operation, business plan design, clients, and promotion. When the intensive test phase is terminated, the systems will be in normal operation. Then, the project will concentrate on an economic analysis of the results and the promotion of the idea to investors, building owners, and the local media. The economic analysis and feedback will be used to develop a business plan for commercial provision of solar cooling in Burkina Faso.


  • Danish Technological Institute (DTI) – Ivan Katic (Project manager)
  • UniCool – Danish manufacturer of refrigeration solutions
  • Isomet – Burkinean company with expertise in metal works and energy technology

The project is funded by the Nordic Development Fund.

Further information
You can read more about our work with solar energy here