Sunday, March 3, 2024

South Yorkshire research gets African nations on the move

Supported by funding worth €3m, research and development done in South Yorkshire is helping to roll out solar-charged battery rentals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Mobile Power Ltd is pay-per-use battery technology company with a research facility on the Newhall Business Park in Sheffield, and has secured the funds from The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa, a Scandinavian multi-donor environmental and climate-focussed fund.

The business is already operating successfully in Nigeria, DRC, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Chad, and Uganda.  More than 14 million battery rentals have been conducted to date, and six million rentals happen every year through the growing network of MOPO hubs and agents. Given the lack of infrastructure in the DRC, the Company anticipates that in the next 10 years its business model will benefit eight million low-income individuals with limited access to power.

MOPO CEO Chris Longbottom said: “Having successfully applied BGFA’s initial investment to grow our renewable energy focussed battery rental business in Liberia, we are delighted to gain further support to develop operations in the DRC. We have a unique business model whereby solar powered hubs charge our proprietary MOPO batteries, which are then rented to customers to sustainably power their lives. We have already conducted 14 million MOPO battery rentals in our current countries of operation across Sub-Saharan Africa and look forward to building our services with BGFA and transforming power access to hundreds of thousands of people.

“Whilst the DRC represents a vast opportunity, our aggressive expansion strategy doesn’t stop there but includes both product development and scaling up roll out across Africa.  With the right funding in place, we can leverage our leading position in Africa to accelerate universal energy access.  To this end, we are talking to multiple partners and look forward to concluding further financing to aggregate our successful model.”

Through its solar powered MOPO hubs and network of local agents, the Company rents its proprietary MOPO batteries to customers who have limited access to power, providing clean energy to households and small businesses, as well as electric vehicles. The pay-per-use battery sharing service requires no deposit, no debt, and access to power on the customer’s own terms.  A MOPO battery is rented to an individual for a defined price and once used, is then returned to the MOPO hub.

The Company currently has two MOPO battery models, both developed in Sheffield. The MOPO50 provides basic household energy for lighting, phone charging and Direct Current (‘DC’) appliances; whilst the larger MOPOMax has two use cases, one as a battery swap for e-motorbike taxis and the other replaces small petrol generators (0-4kVA).

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