Jambo! In February, the Aceleron Team attended The Global Off-Grid Solar Expo (GOGLA) in Nairobi, Kenya. It was a busy week with the added success of being awarded a CLASP Global Leap Award for the Solar e-waste challenge. Reflecting on the thought-provoking conversations I had, here are some key highlights following the event:
- E-Waste is a burning issue: Last year no one was talking the problem of e-waste. Fortunately, times are changing. The past 12 months has seen legislation that will address the issue of e-waste wind its way through the Kenyan parliament. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) will ensure that off-grid solar companies, operating within Kenya, will bear the responsibility for their own e-waste. Just as Kenya is the capital of solar pay as you go systems, so to it will be the shining light for setting the precedent on dealing with e-waste. As a result of Kenya’s pioneering legislation, we will likely see similar laws replicated across Africa to begin tackling the issue of e-waste.
- Lithium demand is growing: From solar applications through to mini grids, renewable energy is revolutionising the African continent. However, the need to balance and store the incoming energy is evident. Up until now, lead-acid batteries have been the storage medium of choice despite drawbacks such as short life spans and a poor quality of energy storage. African communities are demanding better, and Lithium-ion batteries provide an obvious solution. Lithium has a longer life span and greater efficiency than lead-acid, but the pricing must be right to ensure that lithium is accessible to all.
- The demand for re-purposed lithium batteries is huge: The onset of e-waste is growing in tandem with demand for lithium batteries and users don’t want a battery that will contribute further to the growing e-waste challenge. Users are demanding cost-effective batteries that offers all of the benefits of lithium and that can be maintained locally. Second-life batteries are an answer to all these solutions. Repurposed lithium batteries drive down the economics of energy storage, ultimately, offering an affordable route to superior energy access.
What was awesome is that this is exactly what Aceleron is doing in Kenya with partners like Total, the WEEE Centre and Enviroserve. The support for the Global Leap award will help us to offer our technology and to expand what we are doing beyond Kenya into Rwanda. I am thrilled that we will be taking this technology and providing more positive impact in the world!