REPP injects £1 million into smart battery rental business targeting off-grid customers

The Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP), funded by the UK Government’s International Climate Finance, has invested £1 million (USD 1,35 million) into a renewables-powered battery rental company that provides affordable energy access to off-grid communities in West Africa.

UK-based Mobile Power was set up in 2013 to serve the needs of end-users that are underserved by existing rural electrification models in the region. Currently, the company has operations in Sierra Leone and Liberia, two of the poorest countries in the world where most of the population live on less than US$1.25 a day.

Following this week’s completion of a £2 million Series A funding round led by REPP’s equity investment, Mobile Power is now set for rapid expansion, with plans to enter the Nigerian market next year whilst supporting various existing partnership projects in Uganda, Zambia and Gambia.

Through Mobile Power’s innovative rental model, customers are able to rent smart 50Wh lithium-ion batteries at a low cost and in 24-hour increments. Customers can make payments either in cash or using mobile money, making the service inclusive to those without mobile money or areas with weak phone signal. And unlike many other electrification solutions, the product requires no consumer debt or long-term commitment.

The batteries are suitable for lighting, phone charging, fans, TVs and radios and are charged at solar-powered “MOPO Hubs”, providing a lower carbon option to other local alternatives, which include diesel generator-powered charging stations and battery-powered torches.

Geoff Sinclair, Managing Director of REPP’s investment manager, Camco Clean Energy, said: “Providing affordable energy access to some of the world’s poorest communities is a huge challenge for developers, but one that must be overcome if we are to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

“Mobile Power’s novel business model provides a scalable solution that, with the support of REPP and the other Series A investors, has great potential for rapid growth and delivering far-reaching impact.”

Prior to the funding round, Mobile Power had raised approximately £1.1m in equity from early-stage investors, and a further £1.7m during 2019 in the form of innovation grants and loans.

Chris Longbottom, CEO of Mobile Power, said: “The completion of this Series A fundraise represents a vote of confidence for Mobile Power’s unique approach to energy access, particularly in those markets where traditional approaches are less viable. We look forward to scaling up and reaching many more off-grid customers.”

About the UK’s International Climate Finance

International Climate Finance is the UK Government’s commitment to support developing countries to respond to climate change. At the UN Climate Action Summit in New York in September 2019 the UK announced a doubling of its International Climate Finance from £5.8bn over the period 2016-2020 to £11.6bn over the period 2021-2025. This places the UK amongst the world’s leading providers of climate finance. Programmes are focused on:

  • Building the resilience of the poorest people and communities
  • Building sustainable cities and transport systems
  • Unlocking clean and affordable energy for all
  • Halting deforestation and preventing irreversible biodiversity loss

Since 2011, UK ICF investments have helped over 66 million people to cope with the effects of climate change; reduced or avoided 31 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and mobilised £4.1 billion of public and £2.2 billion of private finance for climate change purposes in developing countries.

 

About REPP

The Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP) works to mobilise private sector development activity – and investment – in small to medium-sized projects (typically up to 25MW). It is supported with £148m funding from the UK’s International Climate Finance through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

To date, REPP has agreed contracts with 27 renewable energy projects across 13 countries, employing five different technologies (solar home systems, solar PV mini-grids, grid-connected solar PV, run-of-river hydro, and onshore wind).

 

About Camco Clean Energy

Camco Clean Energy (Camco) is an investment manager that specialises in climate finance and meaningful sustainable development impact in emerging markets. Its long-established position within Africa’s renewable energy sector enables the company to provide project developers and sponsors with a trusted combination of global access and local presence, enabling them to source the right financing solutions to develop and build projects.

Camco was formed in Nairobi over 30 years ago and, since then, has provided creative finance solutions to 180 projects worth US$15 billion.

 

About Mobile Power

Founded in 2013, Mobile Power believes that batteries are the key unlocking energy distribution in Africa. Through the company’s smart battery hardware and Battery-as-a-Service rental platform (MOPO), Mobile Power has reached some of the poorest households in Sub-Saharan Africa with a profitable and scalable last mile business which requires no up-front payments or consumer debt, and can operate in cash based markets with little mobile money penetration.

Mobile Power is now scaling up operations across Sierra Leone and Liberia, as well as launching in Nigeria whilst continuing to support partnership projects in Uganda, Zambia and The Gambia. Mobile Power is also preparing to launch battery swap systems for e-mobility applications in 2021.