Investment company InfraCo Africa has pledged $3.5 million for a project that aims to expand off-grid solar power with battery storage in Zambia.
InfraCo, part of the London-based Private Infrastructure Development Group, which is funded by governments and multi-lateral agencies, said it signed a convertible loan agreement for the “phased disbursement” of funds to Zambian firm Standard Microgrid Initiatives (SMI).
Part of the loan will be used to “initially build six solar photovoltaic micro-grids in rural and peri-urban areas, before rapidly expanding SMI’s distributed power service with more than 100 additional units”, InfraCo said.
The loan will also fund a study into the long-term commercial viability of the solar utilities, “enabling the company to attract further private sector investment”, InfraCo said.
Each 10kW micro-grid includes battery storage and will be managed by smart metering technology. “With each unit capable of delivering clean, reliable energy to around 150 customers, including households, small businesses, rural schools and clinics, SMI’s distributed energy service can offer competitively-priced power to underserved communities across Zambia,” InfraCo said.
In a related move, the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) has awarded a grant of $750,000 to SMI to support “preparation services” for the project.
A USTDA spokesperson told BBB a detailed schedule for the project has not yet been finalised.
However, the agency said the project “is anticipated to be the first large-scale deployment of solar with battery storage mini-grids in the country that utilises US technology solutions”.