The proposed solution entails an innovative minigrid solution that is operated by the local community. This will boost the local cohesion and provides access to electricity for the less wealthy. The grid design allows for serve economic activities as well, such as milling and pumping. This will boost the local economy and will allow for an ecologically justified local energy transition in respect to kerosene-powered engines. An innovative mobile payment system enables easy (pre-)payments and virtually eliminate the corruption risk. Both have been identified – after extensive research – as a prerequisite for mini-grids to be sustainable by local initiatives. Mini-grids exhibit clear advantages compared to other solutions, due to (1) economies of scale in hamlets and therefore cheaper electricity (2) an opportunity to boost the local economy and development by providing light in the schools after dark and (3) a social dimension when the mini-grid is run by the local community, forcing the individual villagers to work as one to maintain and operate the grid.
The complete project encompasses four phases. The first phase was the seed phase. This entailed commissioning of a 60kW solar plant in Madagascar during which the first experience with smart meters has been acquired for EWB. The solar plant is currently operating successfully, run by a local organization. The second (and current) phase is the pilot in Kodje, Togo. The objective of this phase is to test and optimize the current design on a small scale in the field. The pilot will be carried out by EWB and local partner Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (JVE). The planned start of construction is set early 2020, provided sufficient funding is raised. After the pilot phase has proven to be successful, the mini-grid will be extended throughout the entire village. This has to demonstrate that it can result in not just a technically feasible solution, but that it can be sustainable from an ecologic and economic point of view as well. This phase will be carried out by EWB and JVE. Ultimate goals is to scale-up across rural Togo and beyond, to be carried out by local organization JVE. This crowdfunding funding campaign will only be used for the pilot phase. The total funding requirement for this phase amounts to €150.000.