Lagos, Nigeria-based United Bank of Africa has agreed to allow Renewvia and its local partner to install solar arrays atop some of its 600 branches.

Atlanta-based Renewvia Energy pioneered its Africa model in remote communities where it relied on grant funding to connect solar microgrids to empower villagers. 

While this rural-focused model is still going strong, Renewvia has in recent months been seeing increasing uptake with corporations in urban centers.

Late last year, Lagos, Nigeria-based United Bank of Africa, which boasts more than $20 billion in assets, announced a power-supply agreement with Renewvia and its on-the-ground partner, Incremental Energy Solutions Ltd.

The deal will see Renewvia own and operate microgrids on UBA branches, providing a reliable supply in a country known for blackouts and reducing the bank’s costs and overall carbon footprint. 

“This is definitely one of most exciting energy transition mandates Renewvia is undertaking in the USA and Africa to help businesses and communities transition to affordable, cleaner and resilient energy sources. We remain committed to supporting all our clients and communities for a better future,” Trey Jarrard, CEO of Renewvia, said in a news release at the time. 

The company announced in May that it put its the first “power-as-a-service” on a branch’s roof in Lagos. Renewvia and IES will continue to evaluate the power-generation potential of other buildings in UBA’s 600-branch network. 

The move represents a deeper expansion into Nigeria, where, in a dose of irony, Renewvia has also installed a microgrid on a building operated by oil major Shell.

At least seven Nigerian communities, according to its website, have begun benefiting from Renewvia’s “mini-grids” since its first installation in the country in 2020. The following year, Renewvia got a $10 million investment from Nashville-based Claritas Capital to power more projects in sub-Saharan Africa. 

In Kenya, where the company started its Africa journey, commercial mini-grid installations power a distribution outpost for the World Food Programme and a refugee school run by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, both in the Kakuma region. 

Renewvia operates some of its larger grids for the Kakuma refugee camp and the nearby Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement. Combined, the two settlements house about 200,000 people. Renewvia has also made inroads with small villages in the Turkana region of Kenya’s northwest. In May, a German consortium called CEI Africa awarded Renewvia a $4.2 million grant to expand its work in the Kakuma camp, which when completed will connect 19,000 customers. 

Next on the docket for Renewia is Ethiopia, where four communities have had environmental assessments done to lay the groundwork for solar-powered irrigation systems through a project known as the Distributed Renewable Energy – Agriculture Modalities (DREAM) initiative.

Renewvia has set up an Ethiopian subsidiary to carry out the project, building four pilot microgrids in partnership with various ministries from the Ethiopian government and funders like the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and the African Development Bank. Read more

Twenty-two Renewvia mini-grids are already in service across Africa, according to the Ethiopia assessments, and the company has said that by the end of 2024, they will combine to provide electricity to 350,000 people.

In the U.S., meanwhile, Renewvia has a significant installed base of rooftop solar arrays on factories, car dealerships and other commercial buildings, as well as canopy installations in parking lots and solar farms across the South serving peanut growers and poultry producers or providing power to utilities. 

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As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...