Drinking water, solar energy, biogas…the innovation of the SUEZ UCD Smart Village

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Drinking water, solar energy, biogas... the innovation of the UCD Smart Village of SUEZ in Africa © SUEZ

In the face of climate change and the need for development, it is now imperative to find solutions likely to improve the living conditions of populations in rural areas of Africa. The UCD® Smart Village meets several expectations. This decentralized solution proposed by the SUEZ group combines access to drinking water, the recovery of organic waste and the production of biogas for domestic use.

[PARTNER ARTICLE] SUEZ is accelerating the innovation of its decentralized solutions to improve access to essential services in Africa. More than a compact unit, easy to install in remote areas, the UCD® Smart Village is a fully autonomous system designed by the French group SUEZ to facilitate access to drinking water and renewable energy, two basic services whose access remains a challenge in rural Africa. This set of standardized and containerized units is equipped with a drinking water production unit and an evolving biogas production system.

As some rural areas in Africa do not yet have access to electricity, the drinking water production unit equipped with an autonomous solar system (Solar Impulse1 certified) guarantees the station’s electricity supply. The installation also has surface water pumping equipment, a compact treatment unit, a tank for storing drinking water, as well as connected standpipes for supplying the population.

The use of solar energy allows the entire drinking water production system to avoid carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Recovery of organic waste into biogas and fertilizer

And the impact of the UCD® Smart Village does not stop there, since this solution also allows the recovery of the village’s organic waste, including sewage sludge. The fermentation of this waste in bio-digesters allows the production of biogas. Made available to the population, this purified gas is an excellent alternative to reduce the pressure on the forest cover.

The digestate or organic matter from the fermentation of the waste is treated and used as a natural fertilizer, reducing the need for chemicals.

Smart Village UCDs up and running!

The UCD® Smart Village experiment will be deployed in Natitingou, a town of over 100,000 inhabitants in northwest Benin. With the agreement of the National water Company of Benin, (SONEB), SUEZ will install its demonstrator there. It will be equipped with a pumping station that will supply a containerized drinking water production system. 100% energy self-sufficient, it will avoid the emission of 7.8 tons of CO2 per year.

Covered by a solar roof, the system is capable of supplying 50 m3 of drinking water per hour, enough to supply an additional 30,000 people in the town of Natitingou. This project, which combines access to drinking water and energy efficiency, has received support from the Fund for Research and Aid to the Private Sector (FASEP), a funding mechanism of the French Treasury. It is part of the “FASEP Innovation Verte” initiative, which founds feasibility studies or demonstrators of innovative technologies such as the UCD Smart Village developed by SUEZ.

Contributing to the achievement of several SDGs

Moreover, SUEZ is already demonstrating the viability of this innovation in Ivory Coast. At the African level, this equipment should contribute to meeting several challenges related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These include, in particular, MDG 6, which focuses on universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation, as well as the sustainable management of water resources.

The deployment of UCD® Smart Villages will also contribute to MDG 7 on universal access to reliable, sustainable and modern energy services at an affordable cost. This is achieved through the production of solar energy and biogas from waste fermentation. They also contribute to the development of sustainable cities and communities; the goal of MDG 11. And in a global and especially African context marked by climate disruption, “UCD® Smart Villages contribute to climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience”, summarizes Dominique Presse, Director of UCD (Decentralized Compact Units) at SUEZ.

Article produced in partnership with SUEZ


1 The Solar Impulse Efficient Solution Label is designed to highlight existing solutions that are both clean and cost-effective and have a positive impact on quality of life.


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