When Nicole Poindexter left the power effectivity centered startup, Opower a couple of months after the corporate’s public providing, she wasn’t positive what would come subsequent.
On the time, in 2014, the renewable power motion within the US nonetheless confronted appreciable opposition. However what Poindexter did see was a possibility to deliver the advantages of renewable power to Africa.
“What does it take to have 100 % renewables on the grid within the US on the time was not a solvable downside,” Poindexter stated. “I appeared to Africa and I’d heard that there weren’t many grid property [so] possibly I might do that thought on the market. As I used to be doing market analysis, I realized what life was like with out electrical energy and I used to be like.. that’s not acceptable and I can do one thing about it.”
Poindexter linked up with Joe Philip, a former govt at SunEdison who was a improvement engineer on the firm and collectively they shaped Energicity to develop renewable power microgrids for off-grid communities in Africa.
“He’d at all times thought that the precise approach to deploy photo voltaic was an off-grid answer,” stated Poindexter of her co-founder.
At Energicity, Philip and Poindexter are discovering and figuring out communities, creating the initiatives for set up and working the microgrids. Thus far, the corporate’s initiatives have resulted from successful improvement bids initiated by governments, however with a not too long ago closed $3.25 million in seed financing, the corporate can develop past authorities initiatives, Poindexter stated.
“The concessions in Benin and Sierra Leone are concessions that we gained,” she stated. “However we will additionally develop organically by driving a truck up and asking communities ‘Would you like mild?’ and invariably they are saying sure.”
To successfully function the micro-grids that the corporate is constructing required an end-to-end refashioning of all features of the system. Whereas the corporate makes use of off-the-shelf photo voltaic panels, Poindexter stated that Energicity had constructed its personal sensible meters and a software program stack to assist monitoring and administration.
Thus far, the corporate has put in 800 kilowatts of energy and expects to hit 1.5 megawatts by the top of the yr, in accordance with Poindexter.
These micro-grids serving rural communities function by way of subsidiaries in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, and at the moment serve thirty-six communities and 23,000 individuals, the corporate stated. The corporate is focusing on developments that would attain 1 million individuals within the subsequent 5 years, a fraction of what the continent wants to actually electrify the lives of the inhabitants.
By way of two subsidiaries, Black Star Power, in Ghana, and Energy Leone, in Sierra Leone, Energicity has a 20-year concession in Sierra Leone to serve 100,000 individuals and has the biggest personal minigrid footprint in Ghana, the corporate stated.
Many of the financing that Energicity has relied on to develop its initiatives and develop its enterprise has come from authorities grants, however simply as Poindexter expects to do extra direct gross sales, there are different monetary fashions that would get the preliminary developments off the bottom.
Carbon offsets, as an example, might present a gorgeous mechanism for creating initiatives and may very well be a significant gateway to low-cost sources of challenge finance. “We’re utilizing challenge financing and challenge debt and plenty of the initiatives are funded by support companies just like the UK and the UN,” Poindexter stated.
The corporate expenses its clients a service charge and a set value per kilowatt hour for the power that quantities to lower than $2 per thirty days for a clients which might be utilizing its service for dwelling electrification and cellular phone charging, Poindexter stated.
Whereas a number of different photo voltaic installers like M-kopa and easy solar are pitching electrification to African shoppers, Poindexter argues that her firm’s micro-grid mannequin is inexpensive than these opponents.
“Ecosystem Integrity Fund is proud to spend money on a transformational firm like Energicity Corp,” stated James Everett, managing associate, Ecosystem Integrity Fund, which backed the corporate’s. most up-to-date spherical. “The chance to develop clear power entry throughout West Africa helps to drive financial development, sustainability, well being, and human improvement. With Energicity’s early management and innovation, we’re trying ahead to partnering and serving to to develop this nice firm.”