25 March, 2022 Member article

Innovation Partnership between Africa GreenTec and AUDI AG

What does AUDI AG have to do with the sustainable electrification of African villages? Together with the social enterprise ARE Member Africa GreenTec, the automotive group is showing how batteries from the Audi e-tron can be reused to supply rural regions in Africa with electricity from renewable energies at night.

“We can achieve the global energy transition only in cooperation with the industry. With AUDI AG, we have gained an excellent partner to promote the use of high-performance and high-quality battery storage effectively and on a long-term basis. We look forward to using the battery modules in our ImpactSites®” points out Torsten Schreiber, Director & Founder of Africa GreenTec.

According to forecasts by WirtschaftsWoche, Germany’s three largest car manufacturers will produce more than 1 million electric cars this year, and the trend is rising (source: WirtschaftsWoche, 2020). Experts are therefore looking for effective “2nd-life” options for batteries from used and test vehicles to further improve the ecological footprint. In most cases, lithium-ion batteries are still very powerful and well suited for stationary use, even if they possibly no longer meet all criteria for dynamic applications, such as mobility.

Africa GreenTec, as an industry partner, wants to demonstrate through the innovation partnership how 2nd-life batteries can be efficiently combined with its own Africa expertise. Access to electricity is the beginning of sustainable development and can set in motion a process of economic growth which has many positive trickle-down effects. As a pioneer, Africa GreenTec has already been using high-quality lithium-ion storage units in its Solartainer® since 2015 to supply villages in sub-Saharan Africa with electricity. An intelligent power grid distributes the electricity by means of a PrePaid tariff system and enables data analyses as well as remote maintenance.

AUDI AG has now partnered with Africa GreenTec to promote the use of high-performance batteries from electric vehicles with a high capacity for village electrification.

“AUDI AG is pleased to test another promising use for 2nd-life storage batteries together with Africa GreenTec. Due to the high quality standards of Audi, our high-voltage batteries are ideally suited for the specific local climatic conditions. In addition to sustainability and technical aspects, social aspects also play an important role in this cooperation,” says Hagen Seifert, Head of Sustainable Product Concepts with Audi

The new partnership and research cooperation allows batteries from test vehicles to be used in a pilot project. In the medium term, Africa GreenTec would like to expand the partnership with AUDI AG and equip a total of at least 50 villages in the Sahel region with 2nd-life batteries from e-mobility.

The batteries are returned to Audi AG after use for comprehensive battery recycling.

In addition to the sustainability component in the partnership, Africa GreenTec sees great potential to reduce production costs of the Solartainers and thus reduce the costs of electricity storage. This is an important step to further promote the impact and scaling up of the social enterprise. Since its inception, the company has completely renounced the use of diesel generators in all projects and has been relying on lithium-ion batteries for nightly power supply.

The Solartainer is the core element of the Africa GreenTec ImpactSites. The ImpactSite demonstrates how technology solutions empower people to shape their future in a sustainable and self-determined way, and to seize opportunities for new jobs and income possibilities. Cold chains and water treatment enable better management of the weather impacts of climate change and new perspectives counteract migration.