Like many countries in Africa, Uganda’s economy is highly dependent upon the agricultural sector, which contributes to over 70% of its export earnings and is the main source of livelihood and employment for over 60% of the population, and in some areas of the country up to 90%. At the same time, the agricultural sector suffers from inefficiency and low productivity, and the government has identified agriculture – and especially the development of key export areas such as horticulture and fisheries – as the pillars of a strategy for increasing Ugandan economic and social development. The fundamental challenges in Ugandan agriculture are connected to high post-harvest losses, lack of access to affordable technology, and access to medium and long-term financing. In particular food wastage from poor post-harvest storage carry a heavy toll on economies and populations in Africa, where the FAO estimates food losses could feed 300 million people. These losses represent a “double” waste of energy, in that both the energy put into production, as well as the chemical energy stored in the food itself, are wasted in post-harvest losses.
Given Uganda’s solar potential and the necessity of distributed storage facilities to minimize transport distances between field and storage, off-grid solar PV powered cold storage represents a significant opportunity to improve agricultural production and incomes, reduce waste and improve food security, and avoid the GHG emissions from fossil fuel-powered alternatives. REEEP estimates that market scale up of solar powered cold storage could save more than 100,000 tonnes (equivalent) of CO2 a year by 2030.
Station Energy has developed an innovative concept for a solar- powered cold room that would provide refrigeration and freezing for fresh products of any type in isolated areas. This solution is especially adapted for agricultural cooperatives, fishermen associations, sanitary usages (conservation of vaccines) or for ensuring cold chain integrity in food processing and distribution.
By mutualising the photovoltaic and cold equipment, and transforming a product offer (purchase of a cold room) into a service offer (cold space renting), this project allows an affordable and risk-mitigated access to food conservation for rural communities. The scaling-up of this model will be sustainably financed by an innovative equity crowdfunding platform named "Invest.In".