Innovation to Impact – Battery Expansion at Mahama Refugee Camp


Last month Vittoria Technology and MeshPower installed 33kWh of 2nd life li-ion batteries on a solar mini-grid at Mahama Refugee Camp in Rwanda. The camp was established in 2015 and is home to over 58,000 people, over half under the age of 18. The initial mini-grid system was installed in 2019 to power a health clinic and other camp management facilities and reduce the costs and negative impacts of diesel genset use. Delayed by the pandemic, business customers in the main refugee camp market were later added in 2021. The system powers a health clinic and maternity ward, several community institutions and a dozen businesses. Since its initial installation the demand for electricity has grown and the need for additional storage along with it. The additional storage will allow the mini-grid to better utilize its solar generation, reducing diesel usage even further, and lay the groundwork for additional customer connections.

🔋 Innovation
The project, funded in part by Energy Catalyst (an Innovate UK programme), is a field pilot of Vittoria Technology’s Battery Bank Africa service and brings several innovations to mini-grid battery installations. First, the additional battery capacity will be paid for through our unique storage-as-a-service leasing model, reducing the operators’ costs. Second, the pilot’s use of 2nd life li-ion batteries sourced from our partner AceleAfrica in Kenya is proving the off-grid market for 2nd life li-ion and developing the technology to integrate them into existing systems and approaches. Finally, the project is using a first-of-its-kind hybrid battery bank approach – developed in collaboration with Odyssey Energy Solutions’ Ferntech team – adding li-ion onto a legacy lead-acid system to double capacity, optimize system performance, and reduce upgrade costs.

đź’ˇ Impact
At Mahama the Battery Bank Africa approach is providing significant cost savings through its storage-as-a-service leasing and hybrid battery bank architecture, and reducing e-waste through the use of 2nd life li-ion batteries and extension of lead-acid’s useful lifetime. The ultimate result is more and greener electricity at a lower cost for the camp’s services, businesses, and residents.

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