6 September, 2021 Member article

ARE Member SparkMeter Digitalises the Management of Green Mini-grids for 100,000 People in Benin

31 August 2021 – SparkMeter will digitise the management of green mini-grids in Benin. To carry out this project, the smart metering and grid analysis technology provider is receiving a grant from the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA).

Enabling remote management of green mini-grids. This is the aim of the project that SparkMeter will be implementing in West Africa in the coming weeks. The smart metering and analytics technology provider has received a $1 million grant from the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) to deploy a comprehensive digital analytics platform to improve the operation of solar mini-grids in rural areas.

The SparkMeter remote management system will be operated by Sherlock Grids SAS. This special purpose company is being set up by mini-grid operator Power:On and Akuo Energy Africa, the subsidiary of French independent power producer (IPP) Akuo Energy. The joint venture between the players is involved in the deployment of off-grid solar systems that contribute to the electrification of rural areas in Benin.

The benefits of remote management

More than a year ago, the two electricity providers were selected in a call for projects by the Off-Grid Clean Energy Facility (Ocef) to build, operate and maintain 10 grid-connected solar hybrid mini-grids in 19 localities in the Atacora and Donga departments in the north of the country. As part of its project, SparkMeter plans to provide advice on developing geospatial models of utility assets and an electrical model of the grid.

Cloud-based software will combine these models with SparkMeter’s smart meter data to produce advanced analyses of grid performance. According to the Washington, D.C.-based company, these services go a step further than traditional feasibility studies. That’s because SparkMeter will use system modelling to provide analytics that provide utilities and other stakeholders with operational information that explains the root causes of network anomalies, tracks trends, shows impacts and suggests improvements.

Facilitating the operation of mini-grids

“By digitising a mini-grid at inception, utilities are able to more easily integrate grid analysis into regular operations. Utilities can then remotely measure, visualise and operate their system, which will replace charcoal stoves, paraffin lamps and diesel generators with clean, renewable energy,” explains Dan Schnitzer, SparkMeter’s CEO. The implementation of these intelligent mini-grid management systems is set to expand in Benin and beyond. For these decentralised systems facilitate and accelerate the electrification of rural areas in sub-Saharan Africa.


BENIN: SparkMeter digitises the management of green mini-grids for 100,000 people