Reflections from the 2022 Off-Grid Cold Chain Challenge Halfway Point

Insights into the competition's progress to date and next steps.

By Dennis Migono, Communications Associate at CLASP

In June 2021, the Global LEAP Awards team launched the second round of the Off-Grid Cold Chain Challenge (OGCCC), an international competition to identify and promote the most energy-efficient, sustainable cold storage technologies. Sustainable cold storage technologies are a vital component of contemporary agricultural systems. They have the potential to significantly improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, reduce post-harvest losses, and enhance food security.

When the OGCCC launched last year, with support from FCDO, IKEA Foundation, DOEN Foundation and Good Energies Foundation, we invited cooling supply chain stakeholders to nominate cost-effective, energy-efficient cooling and freezing products that could facilitate the commercialization of agriculture for the first-mile market. We called for nominations of walk-in cold storage units designed for storing fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, and dairy products. Ultimately, we received 24 product nominations from 20 companies based in 9 countries. In September 2021, we identified 17 walk-in cold storage units from 14 companies as Preliminary Finalists.

We are now in the process of installing Remote Monitoring Systems (RMS) to collect data on energy consumption and internal temperature maintenance as the units are utilized by agriculture and poultry merchants. Field testing is a critical and unique component of the OGCCC as it sheds light on the products’ real-world performance and user satisfaction. The RMS relays data directly to a cloud platform that allows both participating companies and OGCCC management to see how the units are performing.

The data collected from field testing can be useful to manufacturers in optimizing cold unit performance, improving design and filling data gaps for certification standards. Solarcool, a 2019 OGCCC participant, stated, “The RMS has given us access to credible and verifiable data to present to our buyers. It has also already made it convenient for us in keeping track of the unit for maintenance purposes. Our end-users do not have to call to report incidences anymore as we can view the performance from our computer monitors.”

To date, the Global LEAP Awards team has installed eleven Remote Monitoring Systems: five units in Kenya, two in Nigeria and four in India.

What’s Next?

Preparations are underway to complete four remaining installations in India and Nigeria. From then, we will carry out bi-weekly end-user and unit operator surveys to enhance our understanding of end-user experiences with the cold chain storage units.

For more information on our impact, please read this cold chain impact piece and follow us on Twitter for regular updates on the Off-Grid Cold Chain Challenge.