Portfolio Learning

How a swappable battery network can support and extend grid infrastructure 

A swappable battery network has promising potential to transform how renewable electricity is generated, distributed and consumed in sub-Saharan Africa. Shell Foundation’s partner, Kofa Holdings, has produced a white paper outlining the potential benefits. 

Benefits to the customer 

With funding and support from Shell Foundation and the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, through their Transforming Inclusive Energy Markets (TIME), the research looked at how the swappable battery networks would perform. Specifically looking at the ease, speed, and cost of distribution as well as the reliability and cost to the customer.  

The swappable battery network is far more adaptable to modern customer-centric energy solutions than the traditional grid system. The battery itself is a flexible ‘energy in a box’ for higher end applications, like a power bank for a personal device. Batteries are also cheaper, lighter, and easier to handle than the direct petrol and diesel generator alternatives. 

For example, there are an estimated 150,000 motorcycles in Accra, Ghana which has population of around four million and the number of motorcycles there is growing at a rate of around 10% per year. Assuming all these motorcycles were electric and using Kofa swappable batteries network, it would provide access to cleaner and cheaper alternatives to petrol engines to 30,000 potential customers. 

Early adoption aids in energy transition 

Kofa’s analysis in sub-Saharan Africa focused on the electricity grid infrastructure. Since the infrastructure in this region is still growing, the adoption of this network and energy transition becomes easier. 

Energy supply must be decentralised and mobile to allow consumers to become energy suppliers at any given moment. It should be easily deployable and scalable to fit changing needs, with reliability and cost-effectiveness as significant pillars for customer satisfaction.