Biomass-powered mini-grid project wins USAID funding

By Erin Voegele | December 20, 2013

In mid-December, The U.S. Agency for International Development announced Camco Clean Energy plc was awarded $1 million in funding to support its Biomass Mini-Grid’s Project in Africa. The funding was awarded under the USAID’s “Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development” program.

According to information published on the program’s website, Camco’s project will be deployed in Benin and Tanzania. Camco, along with Village Industrial Power, a Vermont-based micro-boiler technology provider, will design biomass-fired mini-grid systems. The VIP plants will be fueled by agricultural residues, such as palm oil waste. The plants will produce mechanical, electrical and thermal energy. The project is expected to establish 50 of these agro-processing cents and village mini-grids capable of producing between 10 and 50 kilowatts of electricity.

Information published by Camco indicates that the aim of the mini-grid project is to accelerate agribusiness development by providing clean energy to local enterprises. The project is expected to provide 5,000 local families with a modern energy supply, along with improved businesses and social services.

“Powering Agriculture: A Grand Challenge for Development demonstrates how we can harness ingenuity and entrepreneurship to generate and scale real solutions in our fight to end extreme poverty. Joining a community of hundreds of innovators working across five different Grand Challenges, today's winning ideas prove that we can change the landscape of what is possible in development,” said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah.

A total of 12 awards worth a combined $13 million were made under the funding round. The winning organizations were selected from a pool of 475 applicants.