Malawi to Have Lithium Battery Plant

Malawi to Have Lithium Battery Plant

Between 2022 and mid-2023, Malawi has been experiencing persistent and periodic blackouts.

The power outages that lasted more than 12 hours in some circumstances and came unannounced forced people to spend most of their time without electricity.

The power outages severely affected productivity of some small and medium businesses, particularly in sectors that are energy-intensive.

Hit hard with the outages were those operating small and medium enterprises.

Those operating welding shops, barbershops as well as those selling frozen foods were forced to close shop and eventually were left with little or nothing at all to support the wellbeing of their families.

Malawi’s long search for a viable and affordable source of electricity continues.

The country is in a race against time to increase electricity generation to about 1 000 megawatts by 2025 and connect its population by 2030.

However, this seems to be a far-fetched dream with a recent World Bank report showing that 17.7 million people lack access to electricity.

Malawi requires 1 000 megawatts but the Electricity Generation Company Limited (EGENCO) has a total installed generation capacity of 441.95MW, with 390.55MW from hydro power plants and 51.4MW from thermal power plants.

Malawi’s population access to electricity remains at 18 percent, 12 percent accessible through the national grid while six percent is accessible through mini grids.

The figures are now opening minds for alternative sources of energy that can help fill the gap.

High Hopes

Malawi is set to have the first ever Lithium-ion battery assembly point set up by Green Tech Energy.

The plant is likely to see drastic reduction in prices of the batteries and increase its access especially to rural Malawians.

Lithium-ion batteries have been used in small-scale business and utility applications, and as energy storage solutions for renewable energy installations.

They can run big electrical appliances and be used for lighting, cooking, refrigeration and security on a domestic level.

The batteries can also run agriculture and agricultural processing, hospitals, manufacturing industries, airports, mining and mineral processing, data centres and tourism and hospitality industries on a commercial level.

The battery energy storage systems can also run solar farms, grid support and micro grids among others.

Group Chief Technology Officer for Growthsense Tech Service, Nyasha Makumborenga told Zodiak Online that the setting up of the first ever assembly point will reduce prices of in-demand lithium batteries.

Makumborenga said the company, whose company is a partner in the project, hopes they will be able to meet the demand for the batteries.

“At this assembly point, we will be able to meet the demand and serve Malawians,” he said.

At the moment, a heavy-duty battery costs about K3 million but if assembled here in Malawi, the cost can go down by 30 to 50 percent.

“That will help Malawians have access to these batteries and seal the gap that is there in access to electricity,” said Makumborenga.

Renewable Energy Industries Association of Malawi Board Member Brave Mhone says the development will ease access to electricity and, above all, help in Malawi’s drive to switch to renewable and clean energy.

Mhone says the assembly point has come at the right time.

“As Renewable Energy Industries Association of Malawi we are throwing our weight behind this assembly point establishment. Access to electricity in Malawi remains stagnant and with this.

“There is a boom in technology across the globe and Malawi is not spared. Energy storage is key in stabilizing access to energy,” said Mhone.

Deputy Director of Malawi Rural Electrification Program (MAREP) in the Ministry of Energy Francisco Chingoli says lithium batteries assembled at the plant will ease access to electricity to Malawians.

He says access to electricity remains one of the lowest in the region.

“Malawi has one of the lowest accesses to electricity in the region at below 18 percent. Government has several projects that are aiming at easing access to energy. The assembly point will also help in creating jobs,” said Chingoli.

A 2023 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) report shows that Malawi is one of the least electrified countries with five percent of the population having access to clean energy and less than 50 percent of the population connected to electricity.

Access to clean and reliable energy is the only key driver for Malawi which aspires to attain middle class status by 2030.

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Last modified on Friday, 23/06/2023

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