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Affordable and Clean Energy

The most simple tasks can be a challenge without clean and affordable energy. In Africa 1.2 billion people live without any access to electricity at all. 

In areas without safe and reliable access to electricity, children struggle to find light to do homework, families cook food over smoky open fires, hospitals can’t power life-saving equipment or refrigerate medicines, and businesses can’t operate at full capacity.

Sustainable and reliable access to energy enables people to work their way out of poverty, and not just by powering basic services but creating opportunities for economic activities. 

Electricity also allows people to connect to mobile networks and the internet, which unlocks many more learning and business opportunities. In Africa, the current generation of youth needs electricity to finish school, access good healthcare, and enter the workforce in a meaningful way.

The Challenge

For millions of people around the world, the lack of electricity access equates to a cycle of poverty, limiting opportunity, hope, and potential. Tackling the lack of electricity access will be one of the biggest challenges for all African countries over the coming decades; it will also be one of the biggest opportunities to finally alleviate extreme poverty. It is now time to seize this opportunity. 

Nearly one billion people in sub-Saharan Africa are projected to gain access to electricity by 2040, but because of rapid population growth, 530 million people living mainly in rural areas will remain without electricity access.

The Opportunity

Africa Quick Facts

6 out of 10

people living in sub-Saharan Africa don’t have access to electricity.

30%

of health centres and nearly three-quarters of primary schools in Africa have to function with no electricity at all.

8 out of 10

people in sub-Saharan Africa heat their homes and cook food using open fires.

Approximately 50%

of African businesses own or share a generator to help compensate for power outages and unreliable electricity from the grid.

Ekasi Energy partners with Save Energy Austria to solve cooking issues in Uganda

Kampala is the capital city of Uganda. It has over 3 million inhabitants and is growing by >5%.  Over 90% of households use charcoal as cooking fuel and the Kampala-Masindi district consumes over 8 million bags of charcoal per year, more the 50% of demand. 

This represents charcoal demand of over 60 million tons, made from over 300 million tons of wood. Uganda’s forest is fast disappearing as a result and is a natural disaster.

Biomass pellets are a natural combustion fuel made from waste materials and Austria is a leader in the field of pellet technology both for combustion and manufacture.

Save Energy Austria, a Vienna based company dedicated to energy saving and CO2 mitigation, has taken an interest in the situation to see if pellets could be used as a cooking fuel in the place of charcoal. Together with Ekasi Energy, they have been investigating the possibility of introducing rice husk pellets and a gasifier stove called a FabStove to the Kampala market.

The Ugandan government is pursuing a strategy to make Uganda self sufficient for rice consumption. Local growing programs will eventually replace imports from mainly Pakistan. A company has invested in rice milling capacity to process the rice. They have also invested in a rice husk pellet mill.

Pellet Mill in Kampala

Save Energy Austria believes that these pellets could replace charcoal, which would save large amounts of unsustainable harvested wood. 

Save Energy Austria embarked on three important initiatives to determine whether the conversion from charcoal to rice husk pellets for cooking is possible and feasible.

First, Save Energy Austria, imported pellets made in Uganda and had them tested at a laboratory in Vienna to check the suitability for use as a cooking fuel. Although high in ash, the pellets burned well and proved suitable for cooking.

Next, Save Energy Austria enrolled the help of the Institute of Thermal Engineering at TU Graz, to test the pellets in a FabStove from Ekasi Energy.

Stove Testing in Graz

TU Graz successfully tested the pellet fuel, but also did CFD analysis with financial help from Save Energy Austria to improve the stove design and reduce the CO emissions to a tenth of what they were, making the FabStove much safer than a traditional charcoal stove.

Lastly, Save Energy Austria has been working in the Kampala market with existing stove manufacturers

to determine if the FabStove can be locally produced. Local production will allow for a much lower cost and also allow production to be ramped a lot quicker. Existing charcoal stove manufacturers will be able to retool themselves and produce cleaner stoves using recycled rice husk waste. 

Rice Husk Cooking Pellets

This research was done in Kampala and has included engaging with GiZ and Endev, who are European funded agencies helping with clean stove introduction in Uganda. It also included having the FabStove tested and approved for use at the UNBS (Uganda National Bureau of Standards).

The FabStove project in Uganda is now ready to launch, thanks to the structured approach and financial support from Save Energy Austria. Without this support, Ekasi Energy would not have been able to introduce a clean cooking program backed by solid scientific facts and expertise from leading Austrian research institutions.

Ekasi Energy and Save Energy Austria are now engaging with local partners and raising finance to be able to run their first market pilots for locally assembled FabStove’s, and locally manufactured pellet fuel.

Based on projections, not only will pellets be cleaner, but will also offer significant consumer savings on fuel purchases. This will also help poor people afford cleaner cooking methods.

We are hopeful that this project will be a “game-changer” and prove that biomass pellets can help save the natural forests in Uganda and contribute in a significant way to mitigate climate change.