The US Trade and Development Agency announced an investment of $932,945 (more than CFA518 million) to finance the feasibility study of a project that seeks to connect more than 100,000 rural households to minigrids. The project will be carried out by the Renewable Energy Innovators Cameroon (REIc) in collaboration with California-based SimpliPhi Power, which specializes in the provision of energy storage systems.
This solar mini-grid project is based on an innovative battery storage solution, we learn. This is the first project of its kind funded by the U.S. agency, the U.S. Embassy in Cameroon said in a March 25 statement. As part of the funding, SimpliPhi Power will conduct the technical, regulatory, financial and legal analyses needed to develop up to 134 solar mini-grids.
The company will also conduct the feasibility study in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a division of the U.S. Department of Energy, and Virginia-based Morua Power. The study will also include the design and monitoring of a mini-grid pilot project.
“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,” said Jude Numfor, Managing Director of REIc.
According to Enoh T. Ebong, USTDA acting director, “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.”
The US agency holds a global portfolio of 20 mini-grid projects that deploy innovative made-in-America solutions in remote and underserved areas of the developing world. Cameroon has the second largest hydroelectric potential in Africa, after the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). However, only 27% of Cameroonian households have access to electricity, according to official data. This situation of energy insecurity is more marked in rural areas, which account for nearly 60% of the country's total population.