Why you should look out for microgrids in 2017

microgridSteamaCo, market leader in technology for managing off-grid renewable energy networks, is set to build upon its successes in 2016 and deliver energy to many in sub-Saharan Africa who would normally go without 

SteamaCo were founded in 2010, and started its journey by building wind turbines from scrap. Reliable grids was a continuing problem. CEO and co-founder Harrison Leaf said, ""You'd have guys on the side of the road, mechanics who can take apart a truck, put it back together again, and send the truck on its way."

"These guys had all the necessary skills and all the necessary equipment and supply chain to build energy devices that could meet the energy needs of the house right next to them." One device, called an automator, keeps all the electronics going in a truck. Leaf says one could power an entire village.

What was realised is that suitable software, analytics and efficient ways to charge customers was all lacking in these areas, and this is what SteamaCo developed. Come 2015, and SteamaCo won the Ashden Award for Business Innovation, which was supported by Citi. 

According to the Ashden case study, "SteamaCo systems currently manage 25 micro-grids supplying renewable power (80 kW total) to about 1,000 homes and small businesses in Kenya and Tanzania. Other systems manage different technologies, including a water grid in Nepal. Micro-grid electricity powers homes, and enables businesses like electrical repair and hairdressing to start. With a SteamaCo system, payment is easy and flexible for users. The SteamaCo system helps owners to keep track of the technical and financial performance of micro-grids. Real-time information, from the whole grid down to the individual user, means that problems can be identified early, and performance optimised." 

From then on, Yale's Environment 360 has featured SteamaCo's work in a special E360 report and the BBC listed SteamaCo's electricity grids as the top African product to watch in 2017.

SteamaCo's plans over the next years will use the data collected from the projects and hopefully catalyse the growth of the market. 

"Owners and investors need real data; they have that with SteamaCo, in a way that the world hasn't had before for this market," Leaf says. "We want to tread the path between the operators and the customers, and those who might enter the market, and that's when the industry really starts to grow."

African Review will continue to track the growth of this sector and see how it will benefit African business over the course of 2017 and into the future. 

Alain Charles Publishing, University House, 11-13 Lower Grosvenor Place, London, SW1W 0EX, UK
T: +44 20 7834 7676, F: +44 20 7973 0076, W: www.alaincharles.com

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