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

When Nicole Poindexter left the energy efficiency focused startup, Opower a few months after the company’s public provide, she wasn’t sure what would come next.

At the time, in 2014, the renewable energy movement in the US still faced considerable opponent. But what Poindexter did realize was an opportunity to bring the benefits of renewable energy to Africa.

” What does it take to have 100 percent renewables on the grid in the US at the time was not a solvable problem ,” Poindexter said.” I appeared to Africa and I’d heard that there weren’t countless grid assets[ so] maybe I could try this idea out there. As I was doing market research, I learned what life was like without energy and I was like .. that’s not acceptable and I can do something about it .”

Poindexter linked up with Joe Philip, a onetime ministerial at SunEdison who was a development engineer at the company and together they constituted Energicity to develop renewable energy microgrids for off-grid communities in Africa.

” He’d always thought that the right way to deploy solar was an off-grid solution ,” said Poindexter of her co-founder.

At Energicity, Philip and Poindexter are finding and determining communities, developing the projects for installation and operates a microgrids. So far, the company’s assignments have was mainly attributable to prevailing increase orders initiated by governments, but with a recently closed $3.25 million in seed financing, the company can expand beyond government assignments, Poindexter said.

” The agreements in Benin and Sierra Leone are concedings that we won ,” she said.” But we can also grow organically by driving a truck up and querying communities ‘Do you want light-headed ?’ and inevitably they say yes .”

To effectively operate the micro-grids that the company is building required an end-to-end refashioning of all aspects of the system. While the company uses off-the-shelf solar panels, Poindexter said that Energicity had constructed its own smart meters and a software stack to subsistence monitoring and management.

So far, the company has installed 800 kilowatts of power and was expected to thumped 1.5 megawatts by the end of the year, according to Poindexter.

Those micro-grids dishing rural communities operate through subsidiaries in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, and currently dish thirty-six communities and 23,000 beings, the company said. The fellowship is targeting increases that have been able to reach one million people in the next five years, a fraction of what the continent needs to truly electrify the lives of the population.

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 parties and has the most important one private minigrid footprint in Ghana, the company said.

Most of the financing that Energicity has relied on to develop its projects and grow its business has come from government subsidies, but just as Poindexter expects to do more direct sales, there are other fiscal models that have been able to get the initial improvements off the ground.

Carbon counterbalances, for example, could specify an enticing mechanism for the development of the projects and could be a meaningful gateway to low-cost sources of project finance.” We are using project financing and project obligation and a lot of the projects are funded by aid agencies like the UK and the UN ,” Poindexter said.

The company indicts its patrons a service fee and a determined toll per kilowatt hour for the vitality that amounts to less than$ 2 per month for a patrons that are using its service for dwelling electrification and cell phone charging, Poindexter said.

While several other solar installers like M-kopa and easy solar are sloping electrification to African buyers, Poindexter argues that her company’s micro-grid model is less expensive than those competitors.

“Ecosystem Integrity Fund is proud to invest in a transformational fellowship like Energicity Corp, ” said James Everett, administering marriage, Ecosystem Integrity Fund, which backed the company’s. most recent round. “The opportunity to expand clean energy access across West Africa helps to drive fiscal proliferation, sustainability, health, and human improvement. With Energicity’s early leader and invention, we are looking forward to partnering and helping to grow this large company.”

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