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Could developing renewable energy micro-grids make Energicity Africa’s utility of the future?

Could developing renewable energy micro-grids make Energicity Africa’s utility of the future?

When Nicole Poindexter left the vitality effectivity centered startup, Opower just a few months after the corporate’s public providing, she wasn’t positive what would come subsequent.

At the time, in 2014, the renewable vitality motion within the US nonetheless confronted appreciable opposition. But what Poindexter did see was a possibility to carry the advantages of renewable vitality to Africa.

“What does it take to have 100 % renewables on the grid within the US on the time was not a solvable drawback,” Poindexter stated. “I appeared to Africa and I’d heard that there weren’t many grid belongings [so] perhaps I may do this concept on the market. As I used to be doing market analysis, I discovered what life was like with out electrical energy and I used to be like.. that’s not acceptable and I can do one thing about it.”

Poindexter linked up with Joe Philip, a former govt at SunEdison who was a improvement engineer on the firm and collectively they fashioned Energicity to develop renewable vitality microgrids for off-grid communities in Africa.

“He’d all the time thought that the proper approach to deploy photo voltaic was an off-grid answer,” stated Poindexter of her co-founder.

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At Energicity, Philip and Poindexter are discovering and figuring out communities, creating the tasks for set up and working the microgrids. So far, the corporate’s tasks have resulted from successful improvement bids initiated by governments, however with a just lately closed $3.25 million in seed financing, the corporate can increase past authorities tasks, Poindexter stated.

“The concessions in Benin and Sierra Leone are concessions that we received,” she stated. “But we will additionally develop organically by driving a truck up and asking communities ‘Do you need mild?’ and invariably they are saying sure.” 

To successfully function the micro-grids that the corporate is constructing required an end-to-end refashioning of all features of the system. While the corporate makes use of off-the-shelf photo voltaic panels, Poindexter stated that Energicity had constructed its personal sensible meters and a software program stack to help monitoring and administration.

So far, the corporate has put in 800 kilowatts of energy and expects to hit 1.5 megawatts by the top of the yr, based on Poindexter.

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Those micro-grids serving rural communities function by way of subsidiaries in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, and at the moment serve thirty-six communities and 23,000 folks, the corporate stated. The firm is concentrating on developments that might attain 1 million folks within the subsequent 5 years, a fraction of what the continent wants to really electrify the lives of the inhabitants. 

Through two subsidiaries, Black Star Energy, in Ghana, and Power Leone, in Sierra Leone, Energicity has a 20-year concession in Sierra Leone to serve 100,000 folks and has the most important personal minigrid footprint in Ghana, the corporate stated.

Most of the financing that Energicity has relied on to develop its tasks and develop its enterprise has come from authorities grants, however simply as Poindexter expects to do extra direct gross sales, there are different monetary fashions that might get the preliminary developments off the bottom.

Carbon offsets, for example, may present a lovely mechanism for creating tasks and could possibly be a significant gateway to low-cost sources of challenge finance. “We are utilizing challenge financing and challenge debt and a whole lot of the tasks are funded by support businesses just like the UK and the UN,” Poindexter stated. 

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The firm expenses its clients a service charge and a set value per kilowatt hour for the vitality that quantities to lower than $2 monthly for a clients which might be utilizing its service for dwelling electrification and mobile phone charging, Poindexter stated.

While a number of different photo voltaic installers like M-kopa and simple photo voltaic are pitching electrification to African shoppers, Poindexter argues that her firm’s micro-grid mannequin is cheaper than these rivals.

“Ecosystem Integrity Fund is proud to put money into a transformational firm like Energicity Corp,” stated James Everett, managing accomplice, Ecosystem Integrity Fund, which backed the corporate’s. most up-to-date spherical. “The alternative to increase clear vitality entry throughout West Africa helps to drive financial progress, sustainability, well being, and human improvement.  With Energicity’s early management and innovation, we’re wanting ahead to partnering and serving to to develop this nice firm.”

EditorialTeam

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