The US Trade and Development Agency has announced it will fund a feasibility study to connect more than 100,000 households in rural Cameroon to solar-powered minigrids using battery storage technology.
This is the USTDA’s first minigrid project in Cameroon. The grantee, Renewable Energy Innovators Cameroon (REIc), will partner with SimpliPhi Power, a Californian-based provider of energy storage systems.
Jesse Gerstin, Director of Sustainable Business Development for SimpliPhi Power said they were excited to work with organisations which share their commitment to deliver energy access to communities that will benefit most. “As a mission-driven US manufacturer and leader in sustainable energy storage technology, we believe that access to clean and affordable energy is fundamental to economic growth, social equity and environmental responsibility.”
Enoh T. Ebong, USTDA acting director, said the project illustrates how the agency is tackling the climate crises by engaging overseas partners and the US industry to deliver clean energy solutions for underserved communities. “USTDA’s engagement in REIc’s ambitious project will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the daily lives of hundreds of thousands of Cameroonians. For US companies, our engagement will help them enter a new market and supply the innovative technologies that will be needed to build minigrids across Cameroon,” said Ebong.
Under USTDA’s grant, SimpliPhi Power will conduct the technical, regulatory financial and legal analyses necessary to develop up to 134 solar-powered minigrids. SimpliPhi will execute the feasibility study in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a national laboratory of the US Department of Energy and Virginia-based Morua Power. The study will also include the design and monitoring of a minigrid pilot project.
Using the private sector to address energy access in remote areas in Cameroon
Jude Numfor, Managing Director of REIc: “With several years of extensive research and piloting of minigrids in Cameroon, USTDA’s assistance comes at a critical time, as it will mature our plans to provide access to electricity to more than 760 off-grid villages in Cameroon in the next few years. Thanks to our partnership with USTDA, REIc is better positioned to achieve its mission of making available clean and affordable electricity as a tool to faster sustainable development.”
Power Africa Coordinator Mark Carrato said they have been working with Cameroon’s Ministry of Water Resources and Energy and energy regulatory agency, ARSEL, to streamline minigrid licensing procedures and increase private sector participation in the country’s blossoming minigrid sector. The efforts to contribute to an improved enabling environment for private investment opens up new opportunities for qualified minigrid developers and equipment suppliers.
USTDA now has a global portfolio of more than 20 minigrid activities that are deploying innovative Made-in-America solutions to address energy access and security in remote and underserved areas in emerging markets.