Patrice Tognifodé is an inventor who holds Beninese citizenship and was born in 1968 in Bopa (Benin). Based in France since 1990, he is a professor and engineer in mechanical engineering, as well as the inventor of a pluvial-electric power plant (CENTRATOG) that produces electricity from rainwater. Patrice Tognifodé asserts that his device can store electricity by collecting rainwater, and that it operates continuously; which brings back the debate about energy conservation on the table.
While going to Benin in 2001 to attend his father’s funeral, Patrice Tognifodé was struck by the numerous power outages (blackouts) in his country. Back in Benin in 2008, he noticed that blackouts continued unabated. From this observation, Patrice Tognifodé decided to design an alternative system for electricity generation in Benin. In 2009, he patented his invention with the European Patent Office (EPO) under No 09010102.3/EP09010102.
The pluvial-electric power plant has a relatively simple, but effective, operating principle. Rainwater must be stored at a height greater than 10 m. This height allows rainwater to acquire a certain speed that drives an alternator downstream, through a turbine, which produces electricity and drinking water. In short, the device consists of an artificial lake upstream (generation) and an artificial lake downstream (recovery), a turbine, an alternator and a pump for the closed loop. The pluvial-electric power plant would also prevent certain types of flooding through a water tank on the roof of houses that collects rainwater; thus limiting its penetration into the soil. The recovered rainwater is then used to generate electricity.
The pluvial-electric power plant was built mostly with recycled materials: moped pulley, cogs, pedal, gearwheel, etc. One prototype of the device is currently available and was financed entirely by its inventor who bewails the lack of support from local institutions in Benin. Patrice Tognifodé is planning to set up two other power plants around July 2010 in Benin. One of these plants is the STONELEC (electricity from a stone), and the other one the GBÊKAN that will produce "mobile" electricity.
The pluvial-electric power plant can be installed in urban and rural communities and is an ideal alternative solution for farmers, industries, households, etc. The price of the plant varies based on the level of energy consumption. Patrice Tognifodé affirms that a household of 7 people can be powered with a 7-10 kW pluvial-electric power plant for a cost estimated at 5,000 euros (3.28 million CFA francs). But for a city of 700,000 to 1.2 million inhabitants, a 75-110 MW pluvial-electric power plant for a cost estimated at 14.5 million Euros (9.5 billion CFA francs) will be necessary.
Patrice Tognifodé is not only a genius inventor. He is also a thinker and author of a book entitled Devoir de Vérité aux Noirs, Les Noirs Doivent se Prendre en Main published by Editions Antipode, his own publishing house.