The new edition of our “Top 5 Hybrid Energy News” features two interesting applications of hybrid projects and three investments in microgrid players. This will be an extremely interesting business field in the future — we have been involved ourselves in two large rural electrification-related due diligences last year. These investment activities will trigger the construction of many new plants in the near future. It is interesting to see that Nigeria becomes a hotspot of the solar-diesel hybrid development.
Using solar energy for refugee camps shows that the planning horizon for solar projects is becoming shorter. Falling prices can make projects happen with shorter lifetimes than 20 or more years. Already now, quite a lot of alpine huts are partly powered by renewables such as solar or hydro, but today often diesel gensets are still the main power source. Several recent projects show that energy storage might crowd out diesel for remote alpine shelters.
AIIM and Helios invest USD30m in Nigerian solar-diesel-battery provider StarSight
African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM) and Helios Investment Partners have invested in StarSight Power Utility, a Nigeria-based energy company providing solar-diesel-battery hybrid and efficient cooling and lighting solutions to commercial and industrial clients. StarSight is currently planning to offer its services to a number of core clients in the financial services and energy sectors, focusing on a target pipeline of over 1,000 sites.
“Whilst off-grid solar-diesel hybrid remains in its infancy in Nigeria, it is rapidly gaining acceptance as a competitive and more reliable solution than the current alternative energy sources on the market, provided the companies servicing the sector have the financial capacity and technical support to ensure O&M forms an integral part of the value chain. Key to acceptance has been the emergence of Power as a Service such as that provided by StarSight eliminating the upfront capital cost for clients. Following our success in the SME space and the additional USD30m investment from Helios and AIIM we are now poised to expand our service offering to the industrial sector in Nigeria which is lacking a viable alternative to diesel,” explains Tony Carr, CEO of StarSight.
Shell, Swedfund, and Engie invest USD20m in Indian minigrid operator Husk Power Systems
Husk Power Systems is a distributed utility company operating minigrids for rural electrification in Asia and Africa. It has developed a proprietary system that combines solar PV with biomass gasification and batteries to deliver 24/7 power. Shell Technology Ventures has led the USD20 million funding round which also saw participation from Swedfund International, a Swedish development finance institution, and Engie Rassembleurs d’Energies, Engie Group’s impact investment fund. It is believed to be the largest cash injection so far for a minigrid developer.
Gerth Svensson, CEO of Swedfund, adds: “We know that electrification drives development, and access to reliable electricity is therefore essential for job creation and combating poverty. The private sector plays a central role when electrifying the rural areas of developing countries, the last mile effectively, outside the national transmission grid. That is why it is a prioritized sector for Swedfund. We are very pleased to be part of Husk’s expansion, where our long-term capital and extensive experience of evolving sustainable businesses will give multiple effects for the whole society.”
The German Foundation for Development and Cooperation (SEZ), Atmosfair, and Autarsys to power Iraqi refugee camp with solar plus energy storage
The system will include a 300-kWp PV plant and an energy storage system. It will ensure a more stable supply of electricity compared to the diesel generators normally used during daytime. Diesel fuel is more expensive than solar PV but is also a danger to transport, especially in zones of insurgency and conflict. The first project phase allows for powering 1/5 of the camp. Plans are to add more solar plus storage later to fully power the camp in Northern Iraq by renewables during the daytime.
Nele Erdmann, the project manager at atmosfair, comments: “We are glad to achieve with our solar plus energy storage solution long-term an uninterruptible power supply at the camp. This decreases the dependency on diesel gensets for cooling and heating. The energy supply with renewables during daytime is a perfect fit to the grid supply which is only available during nighttime.” Matthias Ross, CEO / Managing Director of Autarsys, adds: “Refugee camps are often disconnected from national grids and rely on diesel, so we’re eager to develop the renewable system in Mam Rashan that will increase its energy security. Our software not only makes the renewable system more energy efficient, but it will enable the camp to schedule the delivery of electricity. By prioritizing energy needs, like the clinic and school, we hope the renewable system can be a means for community empowerment.”
Shell’s ‘All On’ makes investment in Nigeria’s minigrid power developer GVE
All On, an independent impact investing company, was seeded with funding from Shell and works with partners to increase access to commercial energy products and services for under-served and un-served off-grid energy markets in Nigeria, with a special focus on the Niger Delta. Green Village Enterprises (GVE) is an award-winning indigenous mini grid operator in Nigeria headquartered in Port Harcourt.
“With the enabling regulatory environment, the scale of the energy gap, high willingness to pay, and attractive load of a typical household, Nigeria is one of the most attractive markets anywhere in the world for minigrids to be economically profitable. I am convinced that minigrids will thrive in Nigeria and the models developed here will eventually be adopted globally as a major disrupter to how power is generated and distributed,” explains Wiebe Boer, CEO of All On.
Solare Energie and QINOUS equip Austrian offgrid alpine hut with solar plus energy storage
Hochleckenhaus which belongs to the section Vöcklabruck of the Austrian Alpine Association is completely off the grid, it can only be reached by foot. The 17-kWp solar PV and 61-kWh energy storage system will provide the alpine shelter with 90 percent renewable energy. The equipment was delivered by helicopter.
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