Smart solar + AD minigrid pilot project 2022-24
ECOSMART began as a 15-month clean energy feasibility study that brought LEAP together with Nigerian partners; Solar Sister; Meyana Bioenergy; and Energy and Industry Development Initiative and UK partners; the University of Sheffield and Connected Energy Technologies.
The project developed a rapid anaerobic digestion process, combining it with solar technology to form the basis of a circular economy minigrid model for Southern Africa. It aimed to establish an integrated UK Nigerian collaboration that aligned social and gender considerations with economic and environmental benefits.
Focusing on cassava, yam, and mixed market wastes ensures a high proportion of beneficiaries are women and those on low incomes. Successful delivery would support developing countries leapfrogging centralised infrastructure and pioneering innovative, equitable models of energy generation, bio-resource management and reuse.
After a successful collaboration, LEAP initiated a follow-up project, this time with 10 partners spanning technical, stakeholder engagement, evaluation and gender balance expertise.
ECOSMART 2 is an exciting 2 year project starting September 2022 that will result in three pilot demonstrations in Nigeria, building on the first feasibility phase and expanding the partnership to include Smart Villages, Stopford Energy and Environment, Mitimeth and the Nigerian Climate Innovation Centre,
Each site will combine accelerated anaerobic digestion with solar photovoltaics and smart grid technology to generate on-demand renewable energy, exploiting Nigeria's abundant supply of organic wastes and solar potential. We will work with local communities and cassava cooperatives to ensure the energy is affordable and used productively, establishing women-led enterprises to manage the process of turning waste into value. ECOSMART 2 will also develop smart minigrid technology linked with a circular marketplace and trial innovative community, social and gender impact assessment methods.
The Nigerian pilot sites are shown in the map below along with the new partnership's extended geographical reach, which will be tapped beyond the project period.
NOMAD is on a mission to develop a unique mobile solution for the production of high-quality organic fertilisers and soil amenders from digestate - the liquid biofertiliser by-product from anaerobic digestion.
Digestate is an excellent organic biofertiliser that contains most of the contents from the original material digested (feedstock) but there are several pros and cons when it comes to storing and applying it to land.
Digstate has a wider range of macro and micronutrients compared with standard synthetic NPK fertilisers but is bulky at 90-95% water, making storage expensive. Also, its composition varies depending on the feedstock used. On farms with plenty of land space, it is invaluable fertiliser but is best applied just under the soil surface. For plants that don't have space to use it, it must be transported off site with high costs and environmental impacts.
NOMAD´s smart, mobile digestate technology could be key to reducing the overall cost, complexity and footprint of small plants thus, dramatically improving their economic viability. It could also be scaled up to serve large AD plants, helping save significant disposal costs where they're incurred.
For the end user, NOMAD reduces the risks and challenges associated with digestate. With a payback period of 2.5 years, the technology will boost circular bio-economies by expanding enterprise opportunities, improving resource-efficiency and sustainable agricultural practices to create prosperity and employment in rural and urban areas.
The project began in 2019, bringing together 15 partners across the UK, EU and China to design, build and demonstrate the technology in four countries, processing different types of digestate.
LEAP fabricated the system, with design input from Stopford Environment and Energy (UK) and CERTH (Greece) with input from IHE Delft (Netherlands) and IUE (China). NOMAD is currently being piloted in the EU before returning for the UK trials in 2023.