SparkMeter to complete utility digitalization initiative in Africa
SparkMeter, a provider of smart metering technology and grid analytics for developing markets, has been selected as prime contractor by the United States Trade and Development Authority (USTDA) to deploy a comprehensive digital analytics platform to improve electricity grid operations for 100,000 people in West Africa.
SparkMeter will deploy the system for Sherlock Grids SAS, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) created in Benin by Power:On a minigrid operator, and Akuo, a France-based Independent Power Producer.
"By digitizing a mini-grid from its inception, utilities are able to more easily incorporate grid analytics into regular operations. Utilities can then consistently measure, visualize, and remotely operate their system that will displace charcoal cookstoves, kerosene lamps, and diesel generators with clean, renewable energy," says Dan Schnitzer, CEO of SparkMeter. "Receiving support from USTDA and Power Africa for digitalization is an indication that the sector is realizing the transformative benefits of smart grid management for decarbonizing electricity in emerging markets."
The project aims to improve the operations of dozens of mini-grids. SparkMeter's participation in the grant will include consulting to develop geospatial models of utility assets and an electrical model of the grid. Cloud-based software will combine these models with SparkMeter's smart meter data to produce advanced analytics on grid performance.
These services go a step beyond traditional feasibility studies. SparkMeter will use system modeling to deliver analytics that provide utilities and other stakeholders with operational insights that explain the root causes of grid anomalies, plot trends, show impacts, and suggest improvements.
"In West Africa, households spend up to 30% of their income on batteries, gasoline, charcoal, candles, and kerosene to access basic fossil-fuel energy services," said Tristan Kochoyan, CEO at PowerOn. "Our work with SparkMeter and USTDA will help us dramatically reduce the use of fossil fuels in our territory through improved management of electricity distribution and payments from customers on our grid."
"Digital technologies can unlock energy access and economic opportunity for the 2.1 billion people without reliable electricity," said David Riposo, Energy Access Officer at Power Africa. "Digital tools like SparkMeter's can drive resilient, decarbonized grids at all scales while making diesel generators obsolete."
The project is expected to conclude in June 2022.