Winch Energy Summer Update
Since the last press release, Winch’s work in Sierra Leone has been progressing on schedule. Solar Mini-Grids have been installed by UNOPS with DFID funding for the first 12 villages, which have now been handed over to Winch for operations. Winch has delivered 1,300 meters into the country ready for implementation in this first wave of electrification. Winch expects these sites to begin operating between August and September of this year. The second wave of rural electrification will begin in 2020, bringing electricity to 12 more villages in Sierra Leone using Winch’s own technology; the Remote Power Unit (RPU). Up to 50,000 people stand to benefit from direct connection to the Mini-Grids.
Winch has now established its local office in Freetown employing 5 permanent staff members to work on the day to day management, operation and maintenance of the Mini-Grids. This project is part of a public-private partnership with Sierra Leone’s governmental Rural Renewable Energy project, implemented by UNOPS, with the support of DFID’s fund – UK Aid Direct.
In addition to this, Winch – in partnership with Mobile Power Ltd and World Hope International – recently won an Innovate UK grant to test rechargeable home battery rental systems on some of Winch’s Mini-Grids. These battery rental units supply smart battery packs – affordable to low-income households for use in processes like phone-charging and lighting.
As of March 2019, Winch Energy is now licensed to begin work on the Bunjako Island Electrification Project on Lake Victoria in Uganda. This 128-kW project will see the electrification of 4 villages by 3 separate Mini-Grids.The project was advertised in the local Ugandan press in November 2018 and then opened to public consultation in December 2018. Winch was successfully granted our license by the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) after this process. The RPUs are currently being manufactured at Winch’s assembly facility in Sicily with a target installation date by the end of 2019. One of these RPUs will also include Lithium Ion technology as Winch continues to develop leading engineering solutions for off-grid electrification. This project will be in partnership with the Rural Electrification Agency of Uganda who will be providing the distribution for the project.
Beyond Bunjako, Winch is in talks with various stakeholders to electrify up to 80 additional villages in Uganda through subsidised tenders and other means.
Winch hosted an inauguration ceremony in Adido, Benin in March for its first mini-grid in the country. The 32kW pilot project was attended by delegates and representatives from both the public and private sector, from several countries including Benin, Togo, Uganda, France and UK.
This pilot project is the 1st of 100 coming to Benin in partnership with La Poste du Benin and the Beninese Ministry of Energy.
Back in February, Winch sold an RPU30 to Benoo Energies, a French intermediary of the ARE (Alliance for Rural Electrification). Benoo Energies will be installing the RPU in a rural Togolese village by September 2020. Benoo specialises in supporting access to energy projects through Solar Home Systems and solar mini-grids, particularly in West Africa. Winch and Benoo will continue to pursue various off-grid projects in Togo.