• West Africa
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Case study 27 January, 2023 Battery / Energy StorageSolar PV E-mobility Micro/Mini-grid

VoltaViewAfrica – Sun-e-Boat (the Gambia)

Who, What & Where

The Company

Even today there is no access to fresh water and electricity for the people of the island of Jinack, The Gambia. Their main source of income is fishing. Today they spend up to 600 EUR per month for gasoline to run their outboard engines. These engines are old, need a lot of maintenance and pollute the atmosphere and water.

This problem is addressed by introducing electric outboard engines and Li-ion batteries operating their fishing boats. E-engines are provided by Torqeedo and Li-ion batteries are developed by Fraunhofer Fraunhofer Heinrich-Hertz-Institut (HHI) as a novel “battery to go” concept. Li-ion batteries are accommodated in an IP67 sealed case and can be plugged easily into the e-outboard engine. Charging of the Li-ion batteries is done with the container-based VoltaViewAfrica mini-grid system. This provides electricity through photovoltaics (30-50 kWh per day) but also produces clean drinking water (up to 2,000 l/day).

The investment to equip 10 fisher boats with e-outboards, Li-ion batteries (5 kWh capacity) and a VoltaViewAfrica clean energy clean water mini-grid is around 60,000 EUR. With 10 clients, a leasing concept of 150 EUR per month will refinance the investment within five years. About 50 families will benefit since typically 4-5 persons are operating one fisher boat.

The Challenge

Finding investors after a successful demonstration of the “Sun-e-Boat” project at the Jinack Island will be addressed through a wide promotion campaign in The Gambia and West Africa and presentation of the project in exhibitions and other promotional mediums

Convincing traditional fishermen to adopt the new technology will be done before the project at a show demonstration of the technology in The Gambia in Autumn 2022. Here, the first e-outboard engine and “Battery to Go Case” will be shown to fishermen of the Jinack Island, which they can test by themselves.

Technical support of the new technology will be done in collaboration with the University of The Gambia and the consortium partner SUV and the Fraunhofer HHI will provide an educational training programme

Renewable Solution

E-fishing boats have been introduced as an e-mobility solution.

Max capacity of vehicle(s) 4-5 fishermen per boat
Decision on target market
  • The business partners of the applicant are from The Gambia
  • Jinack is a small island close to the capital Banjul and therefore an ideal location for the promotion of this new technology
  • The major business is fishing
Local community
The European Union (EU) has organised a working group in the Gambia to discuss and explore new innovations in the transport sector, especially e-mobility on the ground but also on the water. The community engagement happens through this working group.
Energy requirements for individual vehicles
  • 5 kWh battery capacity enables a travel distance of 50-70 km depending on weather conditions. This is achieved by two “to go” battery modules per boat
  • In this pilot project, 20 “battery to go” modules with a total capacity of 50 kWh serving 10 boats are used
  • This capacity will be charged by one VoltaViewAfrica mini-grid system
Max operating distance per single charge The typical operating distance per single charge is 40-50 km
Battery type
  • Standardised Li-ion battery modules. The “Battery to Go Case” is a robust 24 V battery pack in a mechanical and water-resistant (IP67) case
  • Each 10 kg case has about 2.5 kWh capacity at a nominal voltage
Inhouse DRE capacity to power e-mobility solution
  • Charging of the “Battery to Go Cases” is done with the container-based VoltaViewAfrica clean energy clean water mini-grid system through a simple plug-and-play system
  • Complete (100 %) charging takes about 5 h
  • A solar-powered PV power plant of 4.8 kW – mounted on top of the container modules charges a Li-ion batteries storage system (30-50 kWh) which is then used as a buffer to charge the “Battery to Go Cases” for the e-outboard engines. The same system will be installed at Jinack Island in Winter 2022/Spring 2023.
  • The VoltaViewAfrica mini-grid container not only generates electricity but also drinking water. Because of its modular concept, it can easily be extended by adding additional container modules serving as a new centre on the island for business, health, communication and transport.
Energy storage & backup power Li-ion batteries storage system (30-50 kWh)

Project Financing and Costs

40,000 EUR (grant), 60,000 EUR (equity)

  • VoltaViewAfrica (applicant and general project management)
  • United Experts Ltd. (project manager in The Gambia)
  • Sub-Saharan United Vehicles Ltd. (SUV) (provider of Charging as a Service (ChaaS), container owner)
  • Fraunhofer HHI, Goslar (technical support)
  • Panneh Ngoneh, (media support)
  • Bamba Saho (upcoming honorary consul in Berlin for The Gambia)
  • United Energies AG (financier)
  • Kohlhoff GmbH (provider of Torqeedo outboard e-engines)
  • Encory GmbH (provider of Li-ion cells)
  • Deutsche Energie-Agentur (DENA RES) – Renewable Energy Solutions Programme (grant provider)

Project Outcome

  • The usage of e-outboard engines will reduce costs for the operation of fisher boats by more than 50% compared to today’s gasoline operation making the fishing business more competitive and enhancing the net income of the fishermen’s families significantly
  • No additional costs for everyday use and maintenance of the boats
  • New e-outboard engine with a three-year warranty
  • Access to electricity and clean drinking water after the installation of the VoltaViewAfrica clean energy clean water mini-grid serving about 50 families on the Jinack Island
  • Besides operating the e-engine of the fishing boat, the “Battery to Go Cases” can also be taken home and be used for electricity-producing light at night and charging mobile phones. For example, by producing electricity to operate sewing machines, women can establish micro businesses and, in doing so, support their families with additional income.
  • Today’s average consumption of gasoline per fisher boat is 10-20 l/day. Replacing 10 boats with e-outboard engines will save up to 50,000 l of gasoline a year assuming 250 working days.

Key Recommendations

  • The first demonstration of the e-outboard engine with a traditional fisher boat will already change the behaviour of the fishermen because the e-engine does not make any noise, is easy to operate, does not pollute water and atmosphere and does not require additional operating costs
  • The power comes from the sun. The fishermen and their families have access to electricity and clean drinking water through the mini-grid system, thereby improving their living conditions significantly.