Latest evolutions and outlook for storage solutions in Africa
28 May 2024

Interview with Vincent Ombajo, Managing Director at Collective Energy Africa


  1. What is the most notable development you have witnessed in the past 12 months?

There are 3 main noticeable developments for storage in Africa:

  • Increased awareness and adoption of the Lithium Ion technology across most markets
  • Continued reduction of prices of Lithium Ion batteries that has jolted its adoption
  • Acknowledgement of technical support as an essential part of Lithium Ion deployment

The first two elements are direct drivers of the exponential uptake of storage across the continent. More customers are getting familiar with storage and they also have a much better understanding of its benefits and potential. And when they find out about the most recent prices, they are even more convinced that this is the right choice for them.

But at the same time, every project is different and requires dedicated attention. This is where the difference is made between a successful project, and a project where the customer ends up unsatisfied. Collective Energy Africa prides itself on working with the industry’s best brands and technical support, and this translates into a growing list of successful projects and happy customers.

2. Please tell us more about your partnership with BYD

The partnership spans across the entire African continent as a distribution partner and brand supporter. We promote the BYD energy storage products; low voltage and high voltage systems for residential, commercial and industrial sectors. The partnership is anchored on quality products, technical support and continuous training for all our customers in the continent.

3. Which evolution do you expect for storage in Africa in the coming years and what can we expect from Zellsolar?

The evolution of storage in Africa is likely to follow global trends toward increased efficiency, sustainability, and accessibility. These trends include:

Renewable Energy Integration: As Africa continues to embrace renewable energy sources like solar and wind, there will be a greater need for efficient energy storage solutions to address intermittency issues. This could involve advancements in battery technology, such as lithium-ion batteries or emerging alternatives like solid-state batteries.

Mini-Grids and Off-Grid Solutions: Many regions in Africa lack access to centralized power grids, leading to reliance on off-grid solutions like solar home systems and mini-grids. Improved energy storage capabilities will enhance the reliability and stability of these systems, enabling more communities to access electricity.

Decentralized Solutions: Decentralized energy storage solutions, such as home battery systems, could become more prevalent, empowering individuals and businesses to store excess energy generated from renewables for later use. This trend aligns with the broader shift toward decentralization and energy democratization worldwide.

As for ZellSolar, we expect them to contribute to the advancement of storage technologies in Africa and beyond. This will involve innovations in battery technology, or integrated energy management systems tailored to the needs of African markets.

Overall, the future of storage in Africa holds great potential for improving energy access, sustainability, and resilience, with companies like Zellsolar likely playing a role in driving these advancements.

4. Which elements should people pay particular attention to when planning storage solutions for their house?

There are several elements that are key to ensuring a successful implementation of storage in a project:

  • The goal of the solution:

to reduce cost or enhance energy reliability in terms of blackouts, load shedding, unstable grid and so forth

  • The load profile and energy behavior of a house in terms of consumption patterns during the day and night informs storage size:

Without a good understanding of how much storage is required and when, it is impossible to determine the optimal storage

  • The system design

This is key in terms of generation, conversion and storage. This requires the use of a qualified solar engineer or technician.

  • Choice of equipment:

This covers quality, technical performance, warranty offered, estimated life/cycles, technical support, scalability and inverter compatibility. Much of this can be guided by a qualified solar technician/engineer.

  • Installation quality/workmanship
  • System cost.

In the end, budget is also a key element in deciding the size and kind of storage required.

5. How can clients evaluate the real cost of storage?

Real cost of storage can be evaluated based on the following:

Upfront Costs: This includes the initial investment required to purchase and install the energy storage system. It encompasses the cost of the storage unit itself, as well as any additional equipment such as inverters, controllers, and installation materials.

Lifetime Costs: Evaluating the total cost of ownership over the system’s entire lifespan is crucial. This involves considering not only upfront costs but also ongoing operating and maintenance expenses, as well as any potential costs associated with system upgrades or replacements in the future.

Energy Savings: Clients should assess the potential savings achieved through energy storage, such as reduced electricity bills or avoided costs during peak demand periods. Calculating the projected savings over time can help determine the overall cost-effectiveness of the investment.

Incentives and Rebates: Investigating available incentives, rebates, and tax credits can significantly reduce the upfront costs of energy storage systems. Clients should research local and national programs that offer financial incentives for installing renewable energy and energy storage technologies.

Financing Options: Exploring financing options such as loans, leases, or power purchase agreements (PPAs) can help spread out the upfront costs of energy storage over time. Clients should compare different financing options to find the most favorable terms and conditions.

System Performance and Reliability: Assessing the performance and reliability of the energy storage system is essential. Clients should consider factors such as system efficiency, warranty coverage, expected lifespan, and manufacturer reputation when evaluating the real cost of energy storage.