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Disused fossil generators to get new life as solar powered cooling systems

Nigeria-based innovation project wins $50k in Zero Emission Generators (ZE-Gen) Circularity Challenge

The competition stage of the Zero Emission Generators (ZE-Gen) Circularity Challenge has announced The CoolCycle Project as the overall winning innovation, selected to receive USD $50,000 to help bring its transformative solution to life.

The CoolCycle Project is the combined effort of two Nigeria-based organisations – Youth Sustainable Development Network and KAMIM Technologies, led by Damilola Hamid Balogun and Adekoyejo Kuye. Having been selected to receive the $50,000 competition prize, Cool Cycle will use the funding to launch a pilot project in Epe, Lagos State, Nigeria.

The CoolCycle Project repurposes parts from disused generators to create affordable, energy-efficient solar-powered cooling systems, addressing generator waste and cooling needs to transform waste into wealth for Nigerian farmers.

The cold storage systems will be deployed at farm clusters, first-mile distribution/aggregation centres, local markets, and other critical points across the food supply chain. This solution simultaneously tackles post-harvest losses and environmental challenges associated with end-of-life generators. The project’s pilot in Epe will involve the repurposing of eight end-of-life generators, resulting in the construction of two commercial-size walk-in 5000kg capacity cold rooms, deployed on two farms.

The ZE-Gen Circularity Challenge, launched in May 2023, aims to accelerate the circularity of fossil fuel-powered generators in Nigeria. Through the multi-stage competition, applicants were assessed against key criteria, including potential scalability, circular economy alignment, fossil fuel displacement, job creation opportunities, innovation, and sustainable development consideration. The selection panel was comprised of four Nigeria-based sector experts: Kemi Ajakaiye – Board member of African Circular Economy Network, Tomilola Olakiigbe – Finance Manager at All On, Yasmin Osaghae – Country Coordinator at Manufacturing Africa and Zira Quaghe – Nigeria Advisor at Integrate to Zero. The top three candidates received funding of $10,000 each, undertaking an eight-week feasibility study to develop and test their technologies, culminating in a final pitch presentation to the panel of experts to determine an ultimate winner.

Reflecting on the vision and ambition of the project, Adekoyejo Kuye, The CoolCycle Project Co-Ordinator said: “Waste management is undergoing a shift from a linear model to a circular and resource recovery one, and The CoolCycle Project exemplifies this transformation in action. Our initiative revolves around the innovative repurposing of components from discarded generators, seamlessly integrating them into cost-effective cooling solutions to mitigate environmental hazards associated with end-of-life fossil generators, enhance access to sustainable energy, and deliver essential cooling solutions to underserved communities. We are confident in the transformative potential of this project, and to scale from these commercial pilots to other farming communities across Nigeria”.

Further updates will be shared on the progress of the winning project as the deployment of the pilot project gets underway over the coming months.

The competition was closely contested, with innovative ideas and passionate teams vying for the prize. Deserving of recognition, the two runners up from the feasibility study stage: Husk Power and Nevadic Solar.

Husk Power’s design repurposes fossil fuel generators into solar-powered irrigation water pumps, promoting resilient agriculture and inclusive livelihoods. The company’s feasibility study involved extensive market research in the rural communities where it had already deployed solar mini-grids.  Husk also researched the generator market, business models, and opportunities for emissions reduction, socio-economic impacts, and profitability.

Nevadic Solar, (Project Re-imagine) conducted a feasibility study on disassembling end-of-life generators to create prime movers (PRPMs) for applications in rural Nigerian communities: powering irrigation pumps, food grinding and rice milling machines. The study addressed a number of key research questions related to the repurposing of generators for use in the agricultural sector, including the efficiency of renewable energy systems for driving equipment, and the feasibility of converting alternators from generators into a DC motor. Ultimately, the company was able to prove its concept by constructing a milling machine from generator parts.

Results from The CoolCycle Project will be shared at the end of the demonstration phase.



About the ZE-Gen Circularity Challenge:

The challenge is part of the Zero Emission Generators Initiative (ZE-Gen), a collaborative effort led by the Carbon Trust and Innovate UK, with support from UK aid through the UK Government’s Ayrton Fund – via the Transforming Energy Access platform (TEA) and the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), and support from IKEA Foundation. The Climate Emergency Collaboration Group has contributed to funding the ZE-Gen Circularity Challenge as part of its work to support the Energy Transition Council. The Carbon Trust, in partnership with Integrate to Zero, launched the Challenge to investigate innovative solutions that could accelerate the circular economy for end-of-life and second-hand fossil fuel generators as a way to scale renewable energy systems, which are often held back by continued genset usage.

About Zero Emission Generators (ZE-Gen)

Zero Emission Generators (ZE-Gen) aims to advance renewable energy-based alternatives in countries that currently depend on fossil-fuelled generators. ZE-Gen is a collaborative effort led by the Carbon Trust and Innovate UK, with support from UK aid through the UK Government’s Ayrton Fund – via the Transforming Energy Access platform (TEA) and the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), and support from IKEA Foundation. ZE-Gen launched at COP27 with an initial commitment of over £15 million and an ambition to scale to £100 million.

About Innovate UK

Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government. For more information, visit the UK Research and Innovation website. We drive productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas, including those from the UK’s world-class research base.

About the Carbon Trust

The Carbon Trust is a global climate consultancy driven by the mission to accelerate the move to a decarbonised future. We have been climate pioneers for over 20 years, partnering with businesses, governments and financial institutions to drive positive climate action. From strategic planning and target setting to activation and communication – we turn ambition into impact. To date, our 400 experts have helped set 200+ science-based targets and guided 3,000+ organisations and cities across five continents on their route to Net Zero.

About the Ayrton Fund

The UK Government announced the Ayrton Fund commitment of up to £1bn for clean energy innovation at the UN Climate Action Summit in 2019. It is part of the total £11.6bn of UK International Climate Finance also announced over the period from 2021 to 2026. The vision of the Ayrton Fund is to help drive forward the clean energy transition in developing countries, by creating and demonstrating new technologies and business models to deploy them. It will demonstrate UK leadership and expertise in cutting global emissions through world-leading innovations. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) and the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) jointly manage the Ayrton Fund.