Kenya: Solar Nanogrid Kicks Off in Africa

Antonio Pasolini
Displayed with permission from SocialEarth

africaVillagers in Lemolo B and Echareria in Nakuru County, Kenya recently became the launch pad of a new type of electricity distribution model that could benefit hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. The two communities are pioneering an initiative providing clean, affordable and reliable energy where a central solar hub provides both commercial energy for new village enterprises and household energy using upcycled laptop batteries. The hub allows homes and businesses to share energy, resulting in economic benefits for everyone.

The installation is the start of a major INTASAVE Energy solar nano-grid initiative (SONG), whose bigger goal is to replicate this electricity distribution on a large scale. INTASAVE is an early stage company bringing clean electricity to communities in Africa and emerging markets.

The Solar Nano-Grid (SONG) is a small network and solar-hub with a direct current (DC) inverter-less power output of 3-5kWP not connected with a utility grid. Each grid supports a small independent community of around sixty households, supplying around 300 people through household services and reaching many more by operating the centralized solar energy hub to provide power for micro-enterprises and community services.

SONG results in a range of positive impacts in health, education and other areas. Through micro-enterprises, the community develop projects together, save money to extend their solar nano-grid systems and increase their energy consumption in a clean, sustainable way that doesn’t harm the planet.

Initially, INTASAVE Energy’s SONG model was supported by $600,000 of R&D funds provided by the UK Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) and the Department for International Development (DFID). The first installations, including those being installed in Lemolo B and Echareria in Kenya, were funded with $100,000 raised through crowdfunding.

INTASAVE is now undertaking a global impact investment initiative and Green/Climate Bond program to raise $30 million to roll out the technology to 1,500 communities in Kenya, South Africa and Mozambique in the next two years.

Image credit: INTASAVE

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