Solad Power Group, one of Nigeria’s leading distributed energy solutions providers, has agreed to a partnership with Arizona State University (ASU) to utilise the university’s proprietary artificial intelligence data platform to assess mini-grid projects in Nigeria quickly and efficiently.
As a participant in the World Bank-supported Rural Electrification Agency (REA) Mini-Grid programme, Solad is rolling out solar solutions to markets across Nigeria. The Company has a near-term pipeline of 12 priority projects. The partnership with ASU’s Laboratory For Energy And Power Solutions (LEAPS) enables the accelerated deployment of 25 new sites. Data will be collected through LEAPS’ existing partnerships with YouthMappers and Nigerian universities, whose students will deepen their knowledge of and exposure to distributed energy solutions.
Mini-grid companies must conduct site feasibility studies before they can design and install a project. This is often a limited but protracted process built on insufficient data from short site visits, which can compromise the outcome. Solad is focused on leveraging the latest technology to enhance its feasibility assessments using global satellite imagery, AI-aided mapping models and advanced power engineering software.
Commenting on the alliance, Solad’s Chairman Constantine ‘Labi Ogunbiyi said: “We are proud to be collaborating with the largest research university in the United States. By combining ASU’s unique data platform with our own project portfolio and market access, we can deliver new power solutions much more efficiently. This means we can rapidly expand and validate our project pipeline while ASU grows its knowledge and understanding of market viability with Nigerian students participating in the process. Once the first phase is successful, we intend to expand collaboration to include hundreds of additional sites. Using ASU’s accurate technical and business data metrics, we will continue to invest in energy as a service allowing us to connect Nigerian MSMEs to the world, beginning with clean energy systems providing the consistent power supply, and expanding our services through a mobile-first, digital eCommerce portal.”
Dr. Nathan Johnson, Director of ASU LEAPS, remarks about the importance of innovation and partnerships: “The public-private partnership with Solad will accelerate identification and development of mini-grid sites to expand access to reliable, affordable, and renewable energy. The technical analysis provided by ASU is paired with innovative business models by Solad to create bankable mini-grid investments that address the goals of all stakeholders. Solad’s approach provides a tangible return on investment to facilitate site expansion and economic development.”
Solad focuses on under-served segments of the energy market, prioritising support for the millions of market traders who struggle with access to unreliable or prohibitively expensive energy solutions. SMEs make up 96% of all businesses operating in Nigeria, contributing nearly 50% of GDP and providing 84% of all jobs in the country. They consistently reference access to electricity as the single most important obstacle that they face. With Lagos alone having a population of 20 million people, the opportunity set is huge. Solad already has 10,000 existing small business customers and an expansion programme that targets an additional 20,000 businesses within 2 years.