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Funder: Internal Ulster GCRF Pump Prime Fund
Duration: October 2017 - March 2018
Staff involved: Dr Mervyn Smyth (PI), Dr Aggelos Zacharopoulos, Dr Jayanta Mondol, Dominic McLarnon

Ulster University has been awarded a sum of money to pump-prime and scope applications to the GCRF in 2018/2019. Dr Mervyn Smyth and his team at Ulster University have been successful in acquiring some of this funding to explore GCRF Herd Power – Energy for Change Hub.

More than 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live without access to electricity. The wide scale implementation of solar PV is seen by many as the only suitable method in achieving the electrification of rural Africa. The HERD Power concept is based around a localised PV DC electric power distribution hub (direct connection or battery supply) that focuses on the distributed nature of dwellings in rural Africa. A single HERD hub can serve up to 10 dwellings and strikes a balance between costly individual PV dwelling installations and larger centralised multi-kW PV installations that require greater infrastructural commitment and suffer power degradation over longer distances. HERD Power is facilitated through improved business PAYG models (enabled by the innovative FinTech platform through Mobile, Cloud and Blockchain technologies) to the local household and community users in a manner that fits their given circumstances.

The aim of this pump-prime GCRF project to scope and develop a partner consortia of technology/supply chain providers, community representatives, stakeholders and investors to explore further funding through GCRF Hub and advancement of the Herd Power – Energy for Change concept.

A core objective will be to create an interdisciplinary platform and vehicle for key stakeholders across energy, health professionals, engineers, sociologists, policy, finance, rural affairs, environmentalists, water experts, charity and community groups to explore HERD Power in greater detail and advance the concept of energy as an enabler to empower rural communities.

The project is being led by Ulster University in Northern Ireland with a multi- party consortium including African partners in Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Mauritania and Lesotho.

Scoping workshop scheduled for February 27th, 2018 in Botswana, Gaborone at the Masa Square Hotel. Outputs from the workshop and associated events will be made public in late Spring 2018.

Contact Dr Mervyn Smyth in Ulster University and Eunice Ntobedzi in Empowered, Botswana for more details of workshop event.