Beyond COP26 - progression of the CESET project and its ‘living lab’
Mozambique took part in COP26, where world leaders met to take decisions on how to drive the implementation of environmental initiatives to reduce and mitigate further effects of climate change. A key issue of discussion was to transition away from the use of fossil fuels and elimination by 2050 – a difficult issue given that Mozambique possesses major coal deposits, and it had been expected that coal would be a major driver of Mozambican development.
Mozambique has and will continue to experience more frequent and severe natural disasters such as tropical cyclones, floods and droughts; all of which have become more damaging in recent years because of the impact of climate change. Such extreme weather events have a devastating impact on agriculture that has a knock on impact on food security which is crucial for poverty reduction. Mozambique’s Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosário has declared Mozambique is committed to diversifying its energy mix and adopting technologies that are cleaner and environmentally friendly such as hydroelectric, wind, and solar energy – specifically, to have 62% of power to the national grid to come from renewable energy sources by 2030.
Mozambique and all the other resource poor countries with at-risk communities need and should be provided with technical and financial support from global leading countries to help them mitigate, adapt and recover from the impacts of climate changes. Especially, given that it is those global leading countries that have mainly contributed to climate change. Diversification of energy mix is needed, including environmentally friendly renewable sources, however it is acknowledged that such transition needs to be phased to minimize the impact on the country’s economic development.
To support the goal of Mozambique to move to cleaner renewable energy sources, CESET will create a ‘living lab’ in a pre-selected area around Maputo and Maracuene. The project team will build a microgrid to meet the energy needs of the local community, with the ultimate goal of replicating this to other communities.
Scene is a social enterprise focused on strengthening communities through consultancy, research and the development of low-carbon ICT products and work across the renewable energy, carbon management, and energy access sectors. They are part of the CESET team and have been working with our Mozambican colleagues to explore potential locations. Initial investigations point to three sites - Jimo Ocossa, Ihla Xefina e Benguelene, and Muntanhana. As the COVID context has made travel to visit the locations difficult, the WP4 team have been using geographic information mapping to analyse the sites to gain understanding of them and their different characteristics. This includes geographical location and size; population density; community assets (i.e. health facilities, schools, street lighting); density of buildings and uses (i.e. domestic, industrial, farming, fishing); population demographics; different electrification requirements affecting energy supply infrastructure requirements; pre-existing connection to the grid and likely buy-in and engagement from community members.
Over the forthcoming months the WP4 team aim to identify the final site selection, start to think about the tender processes and companies to build the grid, formalise the business model for the community minigrid and eventually, agree a process to devolve ownership and management of the minigrid to the community.
Minigrids are still an emerging technology and few exist under community ownership in off-grid locations, such as peri-urban areas of Maputo. The CESET "Living Lab" will offer more than just energy to its users. It will support local ownership and control of energy as well as the means to learn from, and replicate, the energy system in new places and situations.