EkoRent Africa’s NopeaRide, Africa’s first all-electric ride-hailing taxi firm and delivery service (Nopea Xpress), has received funding from EEP Africa for piloting solar electric vehicle charging stations in Kenya. EEP Africa financing will allow EkoRent to determine the precise technology and strategy for a larger scale rollout across East Africa.
The first hub will be a 160 kWp rooftop installation in Nairobi. The plant has the potential to power up to 1.4 million kilometers and significantly reduce operating expenses. By generating 208 MWh/year of renewable power for electric cars, this project will reduce emissions by 252 tCO2e annually and lower air and noise pollution. EkoRent aims to create over 700 jobs and offer taxi drivers higher income earning potential.
EVs and PV are a match made in heaven and all that cheap, clean electricity will help EkoRent to increase the number of NopeaRide drivers and expand its serving radius. Depending on the type of facility and market segment, electricity tariffs in Kenya can be as high as $0.23/kWh after factoring in all levies and taxes. The installation of a solar PV plant will go a long way in offsetting the electricity bill as depending on the size of the plant, the tariffs of grid-tied PV systems in Kenya are closer to $.09/kWh. Kenya’s energy mix is already above 90% renewable, therefore NopeaRide’s fleet of electric cars will be charged with very clean electricity at the hubs as well as at their existing charging stations that are not yet solarized. Apart from the new SolarHubs, Nopearide already had hubs equipped with DC fast chargers at major malls and shopping centers in Nairobi. These hubs are at the Two Rivers Mall in Ruaka, the Hub Mall in Karen, Thika Road Mall, and at Sarit Centre in Westlands.
EkoRent says that the excess electricity from the SolarHub is expected to be traded to a local off-taker, such as a shopping mall. These pilot projects are going to help gather data that will hopefully unlock more opportunities to exploit the potential synergies between solar and electric mobility across East Africa and the rest of the continent. There are Tesla’s superchargers bundled with solar in the USA as well as Gridserve’s massive forecourt in the UK. It’s really good to see that solar powered charging hubs are also starting to get some traction in Africa. As the unit economics of solar plus storage continue to improve, more standalone solar hubs will come online in Africa, catalyzing the adoption of electromobility.
The solar hub concept is also poised to promote the micromobility segment, enabling rural communities to adopt electric bicycles, scooters, motorcycles, and 3-wheelers. Early movers in this space such as Mobility For Africa are already showing how these hubs can transform rural communities. Electric vehicles are also seen as a key driver in the bid to improve the viability of existing rural mini grids.
All images courtesy of NopeaRide
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