SESA launches Morocco living lab

SESA launches Morocco living lab

GREEN ENERGY PARK (UM6P, IRESEN), the research, testing, and training platform in renewable energies, launched an urban pilot project dedicated to electric mobility on November 13, 2023, in support of the association for the education of rural girls (A.S.J.F.R) in Marrakech.

This initiative stems from a successful collaboration with the startup POGO, within the ‘Sustainable Energy Solutions for Africa (SESA)’ project, funded by the European Commission under the H2020 program and involving several African and European partners.

The main objective of this project is to provide energy access technologies and easily replicable economic models, creating local opportunities for economic development and social cohesion in Africa. It symbolizes cooperation between the European Union and nine African countries, including Morocco. The developed solutions, presented in the form of rural and urban demonstrators, encompass decentralized renewable energies, sustainable electric mobility solutions, energy storage systems, and end-of-life li-ion battery recycling activities.

As part of this initiative, the newly inaugurated urban demonstrator aims to provide 14 young girls from the association with access to electric motorcycles that will facilitate their transportation to the university using a clean and sustainable solution.

After validation of this urban demonstrator and its economic model, it will be subject to replication in African Countries.

SESA Second General Assembly

SESA Second General Assembly

Two years after the beginning of the project, SESA held its second General Assembly on November 6, 2023. The milestone served as an opportunity for partners to highlight the project’s main achievements and coordinate for the successful continuation of the project. 

On this occasion, a session was dedicated to the external Advisory Board that provided their perspective on the SESA outcomes and shared relevant insights and recommendations on the activities planned by the project partners.

The following snapshot features the most relevant hot topics and the results achieved so far that were touched upon during the General Assembly:

  • Starting with the SESA Toolbox whose formal launch will take place next year: this platform has been created for advanced implementation, management and operation strategies of the technologies. It includes various best practices, technical solutions, geographic content across different sectors.
  • With regards to capacity building, SESA continues to publish its e-learning courses and webinars. The modules on Solar Energy, Clean Cooking Waste to Energy, Electric Mobility and Rural Internet Access are already available on the NUA Campus, and soon modules on the topic of Second Life EV Batteries and Smart microgrid and System integration will be made available.
  • The recent Regional Event that took place in Ghana in October 2023 represented a milestone for the project. In the event’s agenda, municipal stakeholders from across Africa, Europe and India came together for a policy dialogue and peer-to-peer exchange to identify barriers, business models, and policy gaps in energy technology solutions. Find out more about it here.
  • The regional trainings and capacity building activities were also launched in Ghana. The objective of these activities is to directly train more than 500 experts, officials and practitioners in the short term to boost capacities and capabilities of local and national stakeholders.

Additional updates from the General Assembly included a catalogue containing 10 sustainable energy solution factsheets was created to provide technical and functional requirements on how the technologies should be designed and what the best practices are. Two calls for entrepreneurs have been launched to select Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that can benefit from both financial support and/or incubator programme. In the first call for entrepreneurs, launched in 2022, eight companies were selected and supported to develop their businesses in Ghana, Malawi, and South Africa.  An additional eight SMEs have been selected through the 2nd Call for Entrepreneurs launched in 2023, in Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Tanzania. The 2nd SESA Incubator program for these entrepreneurs is being planned.

Among other achievements, a SESA internal call for ideas has been launched. The Call is meant to select 10 best projects to receive due diligence support to reach pre-feasibility studies. Results from the call are expected by the end of this year. Moreover, the efforts of SESA partners have been directed towards mapping out the financial institutions to facilitate funding, financing, and procurement of four best projects elected through the Call for Ideas mentioned above.

Additionally, SESA partners have collaborated to identify a set of barrier analysis in the nine countries involved, while currently working on developing policy roadmaps to facilitate the scale up of the sustainable energy technologies.

Living Labs: a snapshot of their most recent activities 

Some of the most relevant updates from the project come from the Living Labs Validation sites.

In Kenya, two demonstration sites have been successfully launched and fully operationalised. These sites feature two self-sufficient solar hubs. The peri-urban demonstration site in Katito is actively testing use cases related to the supply of potable water and electric motorbikes. Meanwhile, the rural site in Kisegi is engaged in testing use cases centred around potable water, fishing lanterns, and solar power irrigation.

WeTu, in collaboration with SESA partners, maintains an ongoing commitment to engage with local communities. This includes implementing educational initiatives aimed at promoting behavioural change. The focus of these initiatives is to underscore the benefits of clean, safe water, advocate for the effective use of energy-efficient appliances and encourage the adoption of circular economy practices.

Ghana‘s rural and urban Living Labs have been recently inaugurated in October 2023.  Two SMEs have been selected in Ghana to support the implementation of sustainable energy solutions in the living labs. The goal of the rural living lab is to enhance access to energy, therefore, with the support of NASTECH, the SME selected through the first entrepreneur call led in 2022, AAMMUSTED installed four microgrids (20 MW) in the local communities in Accra and Ashanti. The urban living lab is aiming to promote sustainable cooking solutions, therefore, with the support of Econexus, the second company selected through the call for entrepreneurs, AAMUSTED successfully installed biofuel stoves in three schools in Kumasi.

In Malawi, the living lab is focused on implementing of clean cooking solutions. The Mig biocooker prototype has been developed and is currently being tested to assess its capacity to reduce CO2 emissions. The Biocooker works with sunflower briquettes, bagasse pellets, and wood. Within the Living Lab area, there is a sustainable source of residual biomass from sunflower production, supplemented by additional resources such as peanut shells and bagasse. Briquetting technology has been identified and tested for the efficient use of biomass.  To ensure a sustainable and integrated approach to the production and distribution of innovative and environmentally friendly cooking solutions, partners are engaging with local sunflower farmers. Capacity building trainings for local farmers on sustainable agriculture and climate change are expected to take place in November 2023 to facilitate the uptake of these technologies at a local level.

But the progress does not end here. Morocco has made progress in the implementation of the living labs both in the rural and urban sites. The urban living lab, dedicated to supply e-mobility solutions in Marrakech, has reached a functional stage, and is ready for an official launch in November 2023. On the rural front, the living lab, focused on the supply solar PV mini grids for productive use, has made steps toward implementation. The construction and installation of solar PV panels has taken place, and the living lab is expected to be operational beginning in December 2023.

In South Africa, the installation of the off grid containerised energy hub, comprising PV panels in combination with second-life EV batteries for energy stationary storage for community energy access, and for charging a small fleet of micro utility EVs, is complete. The living lab based in the Alicedale community and launched in October 2023 includes a solar PV system, the supply of second life electric vehicle batteries, micro-electric vehicles and as well as an info spot providing access to information on the renewable energy solutions deployed.

Smart Energy Solutions for Africa and uYilo e-Mobility Programme commission Alicedale Living Lab

Smart Energy Solutions for Africa and uYilo e-Mobility Programme commission Alicedale Living Lab

Gqeberha, South Africa 1 November 2023 – SESA, Smart Energy Solutions for Africa, the European commission-funded 29-partner strong consortium officially launched the Alicedale Living Lab yesterday with SESA partner uYilo e-Mobility Programme and the South African implementing partner GREEN Solar Academy. The living lab installation is designed and implemented to provide positive benefits to the Alicedale community, with a strong focus on renewable energy and creating entrepreneurship opportunities.

The SESA Living Lab installation includes a shipping container converted to serve as a Solar hub for the centre, solar panels to provide renewable energy, internet access, and two electric vehicles suited for rural conditions to provide local transportation. The centre, with the associated technologies, aims to test and validate a containerized off-grid renewable energy system including second-life electric vehicle batteries for energy storage with the hope that the outcomes and learnings will lead to further replication of these solar hubs across rural Africa.

The uYilo e-Mobility Programme of the Nelson Mandela University is the SESA partner in South Africa facilitating the Alicedale living lab in close coordination with GREEN Solar Academy, a local venture that was selected as part of the first SESA Call for Entrepreneurs in 2022. GREEN Solar was selected for their expertise in solar power training and their mission to make renewable energy accessible to all.

Alicedale, a quaint village in the Sarah Baartman District Municipality, is located some 100km from the coastal city of Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) in the Eastern Cape, on the banks of the Bushmans River. The population numbers around 4,000 people, and Xhosa is the most-used language in the area.

“The solar container was designed and installed by the GREEN Solar Academy as a centre for community exchange, training and empowerment. GREEN and uYilo want to further test and validate the financial benefits and improved affordability of solar energy provided by the Solar Hub.” says uYilo Programme Manager, Edem Foli.

“The groundwork for this project saw a great contribution from Shamwari Game Reserve and CARE Alicedale. They proved instrumental in successfully identifying the community needs to be addressed by this SESA project.”

CARE is part of the international Social Change Assistance Trust.

“There has been great excitement and anticipation around this living lab installation,” says Foli. “The combination of renewable energy, the entrepreneurship opportunities, the electric vehicle transport options and internet access serve to make this an invaluable contribution to life in Alicedale. It has been an incredibly opportunity for the uYilo e-Mobility Programme to work with the community of Alicedale as part of the Smart Energy Solutions for Africa SESA project on this living lab and make a tangible difference to the people of Alicedale.”

About SESA

SESA is a collaborative project between the European Union and nine African countries (Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Malawi, Morocco, Namibia, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Nigeria) that aims at providing energy access technologies and business models that are easily replicable and generate local opportunities for economic development and social cohesion in Africa.

Through a series of local living labs, the project will facilitate the co-development of scalable and replicable energy access innovations, to be tested, validated, and later replicated throughout the African continent.