Press Room

PRESS RELEASE:
Energy Access Companies Launch Innovative Partnership to Deliver Scalable, Sustainable Minigrid Battery Solutions
10 March 2022 – Birmingham & London, United Kingdom; Cape Town, South Africa; Freetown, Sierra Leone

A partnership of leading renewable energy access innovators has launched the project “Innovating Advanced Battery Expansion for Scalable, Sustainable Minigrids” in support of Sustainable Development Goal 7 pursuing affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Today, 600 million people lack reliable access to electricity across sub-Saharan Africa and half are best served by minigrids according to the World Bank. The project is focused on improving the current value and supply chain for minigrid batteries, creating a more efficient, supportive ecosystem for distributed renewable energy across the region. The project partners are Aceleron (UK), Energicity (Sierra Leone), InvestinGreen.Energy (UK), and Vittoria Technology (South Africa). This initiative is one of 17 winners among 400 applicants to the Innovate UK Energy Catalyst Round 8 grant competition.

Co-funded and supported by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, and its Energy Catalyst program, the project aims to improve battery finance and technology access for minigrids in sub-Saharan Africa, reducing lifetime cost of batteries to support scalability of these systems and the broader sector. This is a critical consideration for minigrids, enabling affordable ‘right-sized’ systems that can efficiently grow alongside community demand over time – and providing sustainable battery replacement for reliable, long-term energy access. Through this approach, the partnership aims to reduce the upfront cost of batteries and support smart, dynamic systems delivering transformative community development.

To achieve this, the project activities will focus on two key objectives:

1) Development of an integrated business model focused on battery leasing, scalable finance, local vendors, and expandable technology.
2) Creation and field trial of second life li-ion batteries optimized for minigrid application, offering extensive capacity scalability and ideal operational parameters at reduced cost.

The project will initially focus on Sierra Leone, piloting optimized Aceleron second life li-ion batteries to upgrade one Energicity minigrid site, and designing the battery leasing model based on Sierra Leone as a case study market. Beyond this pilot phase, the partnership aims to expand our business products and services across sub-Saharan Africa to support minigrid developers and enable more conducive markets for sustainable, scalable energy access.

“At Vittoria Technology, we are committed to strengthening distributed renewable energy across Africa, scaling its benefits and improving people’s day-to-day lives. We are immensely grateful for Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst support and excited to work with our distinguished project partners to build affordable long-term solutions to advance battery finance and technology for minigrids.”
– Nathan Sermonis, CEO, Vittoria Technology

“As a leader in off-grid energy in Sierra Leone, Energicity is excited to join our partners in creating a more sustainable environment for mini grids. Using the resources made possible by Innovate UK, we will be able to address a key technological challenge to bringing reliable, affordable power to communities. The goal of this project is to demonstrate technology that will enable more efficient expansion of energy storage systems and bring down the cost of service, ultimately allowing our customers to more quickly ascend the energy ladder and grow their businesses.”
– Joe Philip, Co-founder & VP of Engineering and Operations, Energicity

“There is still a wide energy access gap in Africa. InvestinGreen.Energy, alongside its project partners, are working on closing that gap.”
– Noel Haynes, Managing Director, InvestinGreen.Energy

“Aceleron are excited to be part of the Scalable, Sustainable Minigrid Battery Solutions project, demonstrating that our batteries can be used in such an application not only provides much needed energy to a community that has lacked viable enabling options but also proves that this can be achieved in a sustainable manner. Taking the next step into introducing 2nd life batteries into this application will also show the world that there is a better way to battery use, reuse and recycling.”
– Amrit Chandan, CEO & Co-founder, Aceleron


Project Partners

Vittoria Technology
Innovating systems at the energy frontier. Vittoria Technology is an international team applying technical design and creative interventions to scale renewable energy across developing markets in Africa. We deliver product concepts, consulting services, and program management, advancing sustainable solutions through our combined team experience in power engineering, international development, business administration, project finance, government affairs, strategic communications, and digital design.
www.vittoriatech.com Contact: Liam Murphy, liam@vittoriatech.com

Energicity
Energicity Corp is a distributed minigrid utility serving rural communities in West Africa through its subsidiaries in Sierra Leone, Benin, Liberia and Nigeria. Energicity provides affordable, reliable, sustainable electricity to over 50,000 people who formerly did not have access to electricity, and plans to serve another 100,000 by the end of 2022. Founded in 2015 by Nicole Poindexter, Energicity and its subsidiaries have secured investment from leading impact investors including Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Treehouse Management, King Philanthropies, the Renewable Energy Performance Platform, and OikoCredit.
http://energicitycorp.com Contact: info@energicitycorp.com

Aceleron
Aceleron is an award-winning clean technology company started when co-founders Amrit & Carlton dismantled and tested hundreds of battery packs and realised that batteries are not designed to be maintained. Anticipating a future with tonnes of unnecessary battery waste they designed a battery pack which is built with sustainability in mind. The world’s most sustainable lithium battery packs in a full circular economy approach, serviceable, upgradable and recyclable. Here at Aceleron we are motivated to empower global communities by increasing access to energy storage solutions for our customers around the world.
www.aceleronenergy.com Contact: info@aceleronenergy.com

InvestinGreen.Energy
InvestinGreen.Energy (IVG) is a young socially responsible renewable energy project developer and independent power producer. We are a multidisciplinary team of experts with over a hundred and eighty years of combined experience working to build renewable energy infrastructure and access to energy in Africa, Asia and South America. The main technologies we work with are solar photovoltaic, mini-hydro, wind and biomass. IVG is currently developing projects in these regions focusing on either rural electrification (mini grids) or utility scale grid connected projects. The vast collective experience of IVG provides us with the unique ability to combine technical expertise, financial acumen with stakeholder and client focus.
Our mini grid projects revolve around the concept of:
Energy Access → Food Security (via AgriTech) → Productive Use of Electricity, and partner with organizations within the Agricultural Value Chain.
http://investingreen.energy Contact: Noel Haynes, info@investingreen.energy

Innovate UK
Innovate UK drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas. We connect businesses to the partners, customers and investors that can help them turn ideas into commercially successful products and services and business growth. We fund business and research collaborations to accelerate innovation and drive business investment into R&D. Our support is available to businesses across all economic sectors, value chains and UK regions. Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation.
www.innovateuk.ukri.org