UK innovators are working in partnership internationally to deliver the clean energy transition for all
Bringing together people, technology, and partnerships to deliver a positive impact lies at the heart of the support delivered through the TEA programme, which demonstrates the value of cooperation to accelerate innovation.
These are the stories of just two of the 280+ UK organisations and further 247 innovative international organisations supported through TEA.
TEA’s ability to pull technology from concept to impact is perfectly illustrated through the successful example of Aceleron, an award-winning modular battery company based in Birmingham, who received support to develop its core technology for applications in Africa:
- An open call for proposals surfaced Aceleron’s interest in developing core technologies. Aceleron has developed an upgradable, repairable and recyclable battery technology which could not only lower the cost of energy storage for millions of people living in off-grid communities, but would also prevent hazardous materials present in e-waste from contaminating the environment once batteries reach end-of-life.
- The decisive step on the African market was then enabled through the Transforming Inclusive Energy Markets partnership – an initiative co-funded by UK aid through TEA and Shell Foundation. Shell Foundation provided critical connections with the off-grid solar market in East Africa, supporting Aceleron to develop their circular economy business model and to secure their first order with market leader BBOXX.
- With support through CLASP Global LEAP Solar E-Waste Challenge, a solar e-waste challenge co-funded with USAID, Aceleron was able to test this business model working with the Kenyan WEEE Centre and Enviroserve, who will make recycling of batteries possible in Kenya and Rwanda.
- This combination of support has enabled Aceleron to secure £2 million in equity investment to drive global growth of its sustainable and reusable battery solutions.
Poor refrigeration options for smallholder farmers in Africa currently leads to high levels of food waste with an estimated one third of food produced globally lost between farm and fork. InspiraFarms provides sustainable cold chain solutions, supporting farmers to bring fresh produce to markets both locally and overseas. These solutions include energy-efficient cold rooms, packhouses and ripening chambers to help keep food fresh and improve farmer incomes.
In partnership with Shell Foundation, TEA enabled InspiraFarms to receive strategic support and funding for its data services, and to support the reduction of production costs and research into key value propositions, helping the company to scale up its commercial operations in Kenya and pilot demonstration units in India.
Additional support through the Powering Renewable Energy Opportunities project (a partnership between UK aid and the IKEA Foundation) has enabled the company to now test the business feasibility of pay-as-you-use cold chains with thirty farmers in Kenya. Upfront capital costs are mitigated so that small- and medium-sized farmers can take advantage of off-grid cold chain storage units close to the farm.
In Kenya there is an increasing demand from international markets to work with small-scale producers to increase the supply of fresh produce. These growers have very small plots and little access to capital loans. The growers aggregate produce at central collection points which is later transported to a centralised packhouse and cold rooms to be cooled, graded, packed and then shipped to final markets.
The InspiraFarms project provides a solution for the gap in the first mile of the cold chain between the farmer collection point and the centralised packhouse. The design is compact to cater for the limited access to land and is mobile. The units include a solar power option to cater for areas with no electrical infrastructure. These solutions create access to new markets, reduce post-harvest losses and increase revenue for small-scale growers.
As part of this project, InspiraFarms has created and strengthened partnerships with local agribusinesses. It has entered into agreement with commercial partners who are deploying the InspiraFarms units to growers of fresh produce at their nominated sites in Kenya.
In the short time that this project has been operating, InspiraFarms already observes positive developments. Growers using InspiraFarms’ on-demand cold storage facility increased their revenue by around 20% as they were able to sell their fresh produce for a higher price. The initial results are also promising with regard to reducing post-harvest food waste. The cold storage facility has achieved so far 30% savings on food losses, further contributing to the increase in income for growers.