ARE Member African Mini Grids Reduces Refrigerated Container Power Costs by 68%
11 March 2021 – ARE Member African Mini Grids (AMG) has developed a 20 ft solar powered cold room that reduces daily power consumption from 60 kW to 19 kW, cutting the solar and battery costs by 68%.
AMG developed its solution in collaboration with an NGO working with a female-focused farm cooperative in Northern Malawi, to address a long-standing agricultural and economic problem – as much as 40% of all crops go to waste due to the lack of refrigerated food storage. Virtually none of the cooperative farms have access to grid power and those that do could not rely on consistent supply.
AMG’s client, Modern Farming Technologies (MFT), a branch of Malawi Fruits, believed that a mini-grid powered refrigerated container would help them solve the economic and natural resource waste associated with the current model. However, the cost of available cold rooms was prohibitive. “The co-op’s members now grow tomatoes in greenhouses year-round, yielding three harvests versus one before, with produce sold to local restaurants and grocers. Without cold storage nearly half of the harvest was going to waste each year. We approached AMG to help us come up with a solution that was both effective and economical,” said Kevin Simpson, CEO of Malawi Fruits.
AMG completed extensive testing on insulation requirements, refrigeration units, and power requirements to maintain efficient cold storage conditions. Their final solution reduced the power and battery costs, the most expensive part of the project, by nearly 70%.
“This was a really special project for us,” said Joanna Gentili, CEO of AMG. “We are passionate about solar power, fully utilizing natural resources, and economic empowerment. This project checked all of the boxes for us. The introduction of both the refrigerated container and solar power are the keys to higher, consistent income for these entrepreneur-farmers, and the refrigerated unit is the enabler of a full circle of recurring income and better nutrition for these women and their families. We are excited to see our efforts resulting in such savings for our clients and really making a difference for these female farmers.”