Ethiopian mini-grid extension and energy storage

Start date

February 2020

End date

June 2021


This project aims to develop an innovative biomass conversion technology (PyroPower). It is effectively a feasibility study of setting up an in-country demonstration plant in Ethiopia.

The project addresses energy storage opportunities which will benefit urban and rural communities in Ethiopia. Our role in the project is to compute sustainability of electricity through biomass-powered mini-grids and rechargeable lithium battery storage options, of an upgraded bio-oil/biodiesel fuel blend which will replace fossil-derived fuels in internal combustion engines and a smokeless biochar, which can be briquetted or pelletised as a replacement for traditional firewood and charcoal for cleaner cooking options, or exported as a foreign exchange-earning commodity.

Aims and objectives

The project aims to test the viability of converting agricultural crop residues into:

  1. Renewable power that is distributed to off-grid rural communities via a mini grid powered by the PyroPower system
  2. Extend renewable energy options in the form of liquid biofuels to supplement or replace existing fossil fuel use in telephone mast gensets, local agri-processing industries, water pumping and agricultural machinery
  3. Solid smokeless fuels for local use and for export in the form of biocoal briquettes, for which there is a ready UK market.

The study will also explore the logistics and cost benefit of converting recycled lithium batteries into rechargeable home battery packs. Lithium batteries provide a preferable alternative to lead acid batteries which the Ethiopian government would like to phase out.


Research themes

Find out more about our research at Surrey: