The U.S.-based peer-to-peer solar equipment leasing marketplace Sun Exchange has announced it will deploy a 1.9 MW solar-plus-storage project for Nhimbe Fresh, a Zimbabwean producer of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and peas.
Sun Exchange, which is mainly active in the African energy market, gives retail customers around the world the opportunity to lease solar cells bought on their own platform for medium to large scale solar installation in developing countries. “The announcement demonstrates swift progress towards sub-Saharan Africa expansion goals set forth in June, when Sun Exchange announced the close of a $4 million Series A funding round after securing a $3 million investment from ARCH Emerging Market Partners Limited’s Africa Renewable Power Fund (ARPF),” the company said in a statement.
The project will be located in Marondera, in Mashonaland East province, and will be built in three phases. It will power Nhimbe Fresh‘s packhouse and cold store facilities, the pump sites and a farm. “The three project sites will be integrated with a 3.9 MWh battery system, enabling Nhimbe Fresh to continuously operate on solar energy alone,” Sun Exchange further explained. “This alleviates the burden of grid outages, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars (USD) a year in lost revenue and additional operating overheads.”
The Zimbabwean horticultural firm will lease the cells at a U.S.-dollar-pegged fixed price. The internal rate of return (IRR) is said to be of 12.33% for solar cell owners, “the highest of any Sun Exchange project to date.”
This year, Sun Exchange expanded its user base to more than 19,000 members in 168 countries. At the end of 2019, their number stood at about 17,000. Prospective investors can buy PV cells via online crowd sales for as little as $5 per cell, giving them income from the power they generate.