SustainSolar’s 40 kWp was successfully commissioned as the country’s first interconnected mini-grid in Kiwumu (Uganda)

In 2020, a coalition of energy companies launched an integrated clean energy pilot to test new ways of accelerating energy access, stimulating customer demand and improving grid performance in Uganda. The coalition known as Utilities 2.0 and led by PowerforAll named the pilot program “Twaake” ( “Let’s light” in Luganda). The project was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and developed in partnership with Uganda’s largest power utility Umeme,  several leading distributed renewable companies including Equatorial Power, EnerGrow, East African Power as well as  various institutions such as the Africa Mini-Grid Developers Association (AMDA), CLASP, CrossBoundary, Nxt Grid, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), University of Massachusetts Amherst, Duke and Makerere Universities. The Utilities 2.0 Twaake pilot is designed to at least halve costs by relying on integrated energy. This combines centralised and decentralised technology including solar home systems, mini-grids, grid and smart grid systems. All are combined into an intelligent and interactive energy network that can deliver customer-centric, clean energy solutions to end energy poverty at the lowest cost, transforming billions of lives faster than isolated approaches.

Inside the SustainExtended container

This project is key and demonstrates how energy access promotes economic growth and can improve the  quality of life for communities. SustainSolar worked directly with Equatorial Power and supplied the turn-key, containerised Sustain Extended™ 40 kWp Solar PV with battery storage in Kiwumu, outside of Kampala in 2020.  Our system was packed in a 40ft container, with top tier equipment such as SMA inverters and SolarMD lithium-ion batteries. The PV panels were ground mounted using mounting equipment by Schletter and carefully packed at our manufacturing facility in Cape Town. Despite the travel restrictions due to the pandemic, SustainSolar’s technical team successfully supported Equatorial Power’s team remotely to commission the system, which is now Uganda’s first interconnected mini-grid.

The Twaake project was successfully launched on the 18 June 2021 during a virtual event that included project sponsors and partners coming together and giving their insights and lessons learnt. This is a significant milestone for SustainSolar, further demonstrating the flexibility of our turn-key solutions.  

Final checks and packing at our manufacturing facilities in Cape Town

As a test of grid integration, the Twaake pilot project combines the use of centralised and decentralised solutions to provide reliable, affordable, and clean power for rural communities. The deployed system will power 300 households and 60 local businesses. According to the Rockefeller foundation, 50% of the community businesses in Kiwumu will receive further support through business incubation, appliance financing and financial literacy as a job creation and income generating asset for the purpose of productive use of energy.

Uganda has now joined a growing global network of integrated initiatives to accelerate access, drive demand and improve overall energy system performance with the Twaake Project. The socio-economic benefits of integrated utility, and the effectiveness of the proposed business models will be assessed by Makerere University and several local companies. As SustainSolar, we are honoured to be part of this ground-breaking initiative and look forward to further successes in supporting Uganda’s universal energy access goals.

Founded in 2018, SustainSolar offers turnkey containerized, pre-installed solar and battery systems equipped with top-quality solar PV electronics including lithium-ion batteries which come in three standardized yet adjustable product configurations from small to large to suit a wide range of energy needs. With its commitment to quality, a rapidly growing track record on the African continent, and an expanding network of local partners, SustainSolar is a preferred solution provider for mini-grid operators as well as off-grid and hybrid fuel saving applications. SustainSolar strives to reduce implementation risk for project developers, alleviates operational hassles such as sourcing, logistics and commissioning and offers asset financing for its product range.