Building Capacity – aiming for ESCO

Pamoja has been busy in the field as anyone would expect from a venture within rural electrification. Lately, the power plant site has been crowded with new trainees that aspire to become power plant operators. Together with technology partners from the US and India Pamoja has now trained over 20 new operators that can independently run a small scale power plant that uses agricultural residues for power production through biomass gasification. The future opportunities for technically trained personnel who master renewable energy technologies are numerous.

Not only will Pamoja recruit new staff members from this talent pool. The whole sector is evolving and we can see many new small enterprises establish with an ambition to produce sustainable power from biomass waste. For Pamoja’s long term success it is absolutely crucial to work for technology transfer and train skilled staff for operation and maintenance purposes. We are essentially building an energy service company (ESCO) and we will work hard to keep being reliable and service oriented, enabling long term value for our customers.

Brand new webpage @ www.pamojacleantech.com

Pamoja has launched a brand new design for our webpage. We are also happy to receive feedback on the new design and content. Very welcome to visit us at www.pamojacleantech.com

Kind regards,

Team Pamoja

Grid installed and first households connected

After a few months of hard work the grid connection to the houses around the power plant is installed. About 40 power poles have been built along the main road of the village in order to allow a connection of the households. During the latest weeks, the first houses have been electrified including lightning and supply with sockets. Our technicians are now able to organize the system on a self-sustaining way. From the supply with corn cobs feedstock until the electricity reaches the households – the whole system runs on a continous basis.

The next challenge will be to run the system commercially and to establish a stable process flow. This includes dealing with the supply chain with maize cobs and the residue product of charcoals and tar, implementing and efficient payment system is crucial ofcourse. Pamoja has developd an offering that allows poorer households to benefit from a low-cost one-bulb package with individual tariffs. Finally, villagers do no longer have to walk far to charge their mobile phones, and the villagers do not need to use health harming and dangerous kerosene lamps with poor lightning quality any more. In the following phase, Pamoja will work to introduce community services that allow the community to make productive use of the electricity and to create income generating enterprises that runs on sustainable energy.

First lights, promising results

At the pilot site, the first 40 kW biomass gasification power plant has been running continously and the first hurdles from sourcing suitable biomass has been overcome. Together with partners a suitable shredder has been sourced and the design has been modified in order to be able to make use of the corn cobs residue for electricity production. The residue needs to be of the right size to function well in the gasifier. To celebrate that the first electric lights were lit there was a big ceremony and party was arranged at site. Local dj’s were invited to play the funkiest music and the technology was showcased for the community members and the project partner Kananasi Youth Farmers Association.

The technical training seems to produce promising results. 4 technicans, 1 woman and 3 men have been trained and can now run the machince without external supervision. Since the first period of fairly successful piloting we have runned into unfortunate and long delays for connecting the micro grid to the first household customers. The first door-to-door registration of willing customers have been started. Finally, the appropriate wooden poles have reached site. The project team is only awaiting needed approval from local authorities to setup electricity distribution technologies and then we believe we can reach the commissioning stage of the project.

BIG news – First power plant at site

Recently Pamoja partnered with Norges Vel and Husk Power Systems in order to implement 4 biomass energy powersystems in Uganda. Pamoja Cleantech has been contracted to operate and maintain the systems. Part of the task is to pilot the HUSK business model and develop a strategy which will work for the East African local context. The first power plant unit has been shipped at sea from India. The whole process took ca 2 months and the unit has now finally reached the community site.

Co-founder William Katende is managing the team effort at site. Initial training has been started and the preparation work at site has been finished. Just recently the plant was tested for a continous 5 hour running time. The team is sourcing mini-grid equipment and testing methods for biomass processing. The local community represented by Kananansi Youth Farmers Association has been very collaborative.  3 technicians from the community have been selected for receiving further training with the objevtive  for them to be able to  manage operation of the power plant at site with Pamoja Uganda. This is an exciting phase for the entire team and we have worked hard to reach it. On the other hand, this is just a beginning in buidling a long term sustainable energy service company.

Shift Accelerator – towards more resilient business

During the last days Pamoja team in Sweden has been participating in a startup accelerator SHIFT. The acccelerator program is designed to boost a new generation of startups with tools for shaping sustainable and resilient business operations. During the last days of intenvise workshping, pitching and feedback from assigned menthors from Stockholm Resilience Center our team has had the unique chance to futher ellaborate our system innovation and scrutinize the environmental challenges of our innovation. It has been an inspiring experience to meet with likeminded entrerpreneurs from all around the baltics and more.

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Technical Paper awarded at International Energy Conference

We received this great news some time ago, but since the paper has now been officially approved for publishing we thought this news item deserves its own blog post. Team members John Furtado and Prof. Thomas Buchholz technical paper: Electricity from wood-fired gasification in Uganda: a 250 and 10kw Case Study, got the best paper award at the ‘Domestic use of Energy Conference’ held at Cape Peninsula University of Technology in South Africa between 3rd and 4th April.

Our team members have been collaborating with Professor Izael da Silva, the Deputy Vice Chancellor at Strathmore University, Nairobi Kenya. He co-authored the paper with Prof Thomas Buchholz of University of Vermont’s and Institute for Ecological Economics in the US; Mr John Furtado from the Department of Industrial Ecology, KTH Royal Institute of Technology of Sweden.

Read full news here

Field research in Uganda

Our recent business study, financed by the SIDA Innovations Against Poverty – for validating our inclusive business model  has been finalized. This study has helped us substantiate the business opportunity in rural Uganda. In contact with local farmer cooperatives we have been able to confirm the ability to pay for electricity in these markets, necessary available biomass resources have been identified.  Some of the households are spending up to 7 €/month (20 000 UGX) on kerosene lamps and 4 €/month (12 000 UGX) on small paraffin lamps (Tadooba). We belive our renewable energy alternative can offer an economically  interesting alternative to these customers.  Read more

Social Capital Conference – Designing the Future

Pamoja Cleantech participated in SOCAP Europe May 8-10th 2012, with the world’s leading social impact innovators, the event gathered 400+ of the world’s pioneering impact investors, social entrepreneurs, philanthropists, government and civic leaders, and innovators to design a future that’s better for all. Read more

New York, New York

One week in the Big Apple makes magic happen. During a one week stay the team had the chance to arrange meetings with several interesting actors in the social impact investment scene. Our team was specially happy to meet with the Global Social Investment Funds team at Deutche Bank. Having the opportunity to present our business case for this team that is about to setup a groundbreaking new social impact investment fund was very inspiring. That Deutche Bank is operating in novel manners on Wall Street makes one even more excited. We’d be happy to collaborate in the future when our proof of concept is up and running.

Addtinionally, our team met with the excellent Willow Impact Investors. This meeting was likewise very motivating. I am very pleased to find investors out there that share our values and this make me very excited about the future. Read more