A new generation of emissions-free, distributed energy systems are being installed in homes and businesses across Sub-Saharan Africa, changing the face and nature of rural electrification, as well as models of international and socioeconomic development.
Off-grid, smart-metered solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and inverters integrated with battery energy storage systems are now powering energy efficient LED lighting and direct current (DC) household devices and appliances across Sub-Saharan Africa. Coupled with widely available and widely popular mobile e-payments services, these “pay as you go” solar energy services are bringing the benefits of safe, affordable, reliable and efficient clean energy to rural towns and villages that have never known them. A growing roster of innovative, entrepreneurial start-ups and young, mobile pay-go solar companies have been attracting private equity and corporate venture capital, and more recently debt financing from banks, giving them the wherewithal to expand from East to West Africa south of the Sahara and beyond.
Deployment of community “solar plus storage” microgrids, equipped with secondary, back-up diesel generation where viable, holds the promise of potentially more efficient and effective means of rural electrification and sustainable development. Having carried out a rural microgrid feasibility study for the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and the USAID-led Power Africa program last year, Atlanta, Georgia-based Renewvia Energy has commenced building three out of a planned 13 community “solar plus storage” microgrids in remote, off-grid areas of Kenya.
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