How did a US/Norwegian nationwide find yourself founding a enterprise in Ghana with the goal of advancing power entry in Ghana and past? Nicely, Erik Nygard lived in Ghana throughout his adolescence, earlier than going to school within the US after which the UK. His household moved throughout West Africa for over 30 years, primarily between Nigeria and Ghana. Then, after a interval in a company position at Centrica within the UK, he took the plunge and based his personal startup.
The corporate, Limejump, crested Britain’s first distributed power useful resource aggregation platform for property comparable to photo voltaic and wind farms in addition to grid-scale battery storage. Limejump offers renewable mills and versatile asset homeowners a path to the ancillary and wholesale markets by means of subtle energy buy settlement merchandise and an agile 24/7 buying and selling and optimization providing. Erik exited the corporate in early 2019 after they offered the enterprise to Shell.
In search of his subsequent large problem, Erik discovered his manner again to Ghana, founding Kofa alongside an preliminary founding staff in 2021. Kofa is tackling how individuals entry clear and inexpensive power in city environments throughout Africa. The preliminary use circumstances are in clear power powered electrical bikes and stationary backup energy wants. The motorbike sector is presently a $30 billion annual market throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Over half of this spending is on petrol utilized in bikes, and the rest is on petrol and diesel utilized in mills.
Leaning on his earlier expertise constructing a distributed power administration platform, Kofa is constructing a know-how platform to handle a swappable battery community. A crucial a part of that is establishing an ordinary “type issue” for the swappable batteries, incorporating the required IOT know-how and software program plus swapping infrastructure that can enable for a tremendous buyer expertise.
Batteries might be accessed at swap stations unfold throughout strategic places in city environments throughout Africa. The battery community is comprised of an identical battery packs with the battery having a capability of two kWh and weighing about 14 kg. These could be plugged straight into an electrical motorbike or related to an inverter that may then be used to energy AC hundreds for backup energy or different productive use wants.
Kofa’s battery packs have a slick type issue with an ergonomic deal with to make it straightforward for customers to hold round, making them excellent for swapping. The Kofa bikes can accommodate 2 battery packs, which suggests a motorbike can have as much as 4 kWh battery storage. Erik says the vary of their bikes is within the area of 20 to 30 km/kWh relying on driving type, payload and highway circumstances. Kofa is initially concentrating on companies that use bikes for supply wants and likewise small and micro companies that want entry to dependable energy throughout blackouts or for different productive use.
Kofa needs to encourage interoperability amongst mobility firms and goals to service a number of gamers on this sector. They’re working to win them over by having the perfect battery swap community (protection and reliability) in addition to the perfect performing battery packs and utilization fashions in the marketplace. They see a giant place for edge AI on their IOT boards that exist in every battery pack to assist handle battery security and community optimization. That is particularly essential when knowledge connectivity could be problematic even in city environments.
Kofa is within the midst of launching its first technology of merchandise after having accomplished a collection of pilots in 2022. Kofa already has 8 public battery swap stations in Accra together with roughly 50 bikes that are presently being launched to clients. The corporate is launching with two fee fashions, a month-to-month subscription or a a pay as you go/pay per swap mannequin.
Kofa will even incorporate funds through cellular cash, a ubiquitous fee methodology in a whole lot of African nations that’s enabling monetary inclusion on a continent the place nearly all of residents usually don’t have entry to conventional banking channels. Leveraging the embedded software program on their IOT boards, they plan to launch a service the place shoppers will pay a fraction of the price of a full cost and entry a sure quantum of power at a time.
Erik provides, “For instance, a rider can pre-pay for 20% of a full cost, use the battery on a motorbike and earn some cash then prime as much as unlock one other chunk of power from the battery pack with out having to return the battery to a swap station. We’re supper enthusiastic about having these options that may decrease the boundaries to entry and likewise enhance the worth proposition for our clients.”
Because the world electrifies, Kofa sees its battery community as a crucial assist and optimization instrument to the native electrical energy grid. As an alternative of needing to over-invest in costly electrical energy grid infrastructure usually wanted to satisfy peak buyer demand, Kofa believes its battery community will have the ability to ship this entry cheaper and sooner within the quick time period, thereby permitting extra optimum planning to be carried out when investing into grid infrastructure when the time is correct. This might be an actual incentive to native governments throughout the continent and can set a brand new precedent for offering entry to wash and renewable power.
Kofa presently has a giant objective to achieve 10 million clients throughout Africa actively utilizing its battery community, equal to offsetting 10 million tonnes of CO2 per 12 months by displacing petrol. This may additionally ship round $2 billion in annual buyer financial savings because the battery community is cheaper than utilizing petrol.
To attain this objective, Kofa has lately landed its first exterior funding spherical with backing from UK charity Shell Basis and the UK’s FCDO, Mercy Corp Ventures, and Wangara Inexperienced Ventures, together with a small variety of distinguished angel traders. This funding will enable Kofa to speed up its launch into a number of cities throughout Ghana with its improved second technology of merchandise. Kofa’s staff has now grown to 11, with the bulk inside product and engineering.
I’m actually enthusiastic about this method. It’ll assist sort out a crucial drawback in a whole lot of nations on the continent. The truth that they’re concentrating on each the mobility sector in addition to the stationary storage market with a uniform type issue permits to for scalability and helps to create a crucial mass for his or her merchandise. Interoperability has been a giant subject on the continent with a plethora of startups all having completely different type elements, connectors, and administration programs. A unified method is required to develop the sector.
Pictures courtesy of Kofa
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