Solar Powered Multi-Use Cold Storage in Uganda: Station Energy

Uganda's GDP growth of over 6% is highly dependent upon the performance of its agricultural sector, which contributes to over 70% of Uganda’s export earnings. The sector suffers from high degree of inefficiency and low productivity and the government has identified the agricultural sector as the main mechanism for increasing economic and social development in the country. Lack of access to sufficient, reliable and affordable energy in rural areas limits investments in agro-processing industries as well as simple facilities such as refrigeration to enhance the shelf life of perishable commodities such as milk, fruits or vegetables.

With Uganda’s solar potential, Station Energy has developed an innovative concept of solar cold room for fresh product refrigeration/freezing in remote areas. This solution is especially adapted for agricultural cooperatives and is focusing on an energy service model with rental of containerised cold room facilities.

 

Background

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. 

Purpose

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.

Main Activities

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".

 

Expected Impact

Solar-Powered Multi-Use Agricultural Cooling: Potential Market Impact

Station Energy: Direct Impact for Farmers

  • 30% decrease in post-harvest losses
  • 50% increase in product life span
  • Yearly economic benefit of € 5250 for a farmer renting 1 m3 of cold space
  • Yearly economic benefit of  € 6250 for farmer cooperatives
 
Stage of project: 

Completed

Location: 

Uganda

Implementing agency: 

Station Energy

REEEP grant funded by:

Austria