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Lead-battery powered green energy for Africa scoops $1million prize

An innovative lead-battery powered tractor designed to help 

bring affordable green energy and food security to communities across Africa, has won a $1million global prize.

Aftrak, supported by the Consortium for Battery Innovation, was awarded the Milken Motsepe Prize in Green Energy at a ceremony in Los Angeles.

The groundbreaking project involves a revolutionary self-sustaining system made up of a solar microgrid, a micro electric tractor supported by lead batteries and designed by Britain’s Loughborough University.

Dr Jonathan Wilson, project lead at Loughborough University said: “The Aftrak system is an economy in a box! Our solar array electrifies the community, powers our micro electric tractor which allows villages to use Deep Bed Farming to increase their crop yield by up to three-fold which in turn allows for the purchase of power from our microgrid, creating a self-sustaining model for decentralised energy access.” 

Aftrak is a partnership of researchers from Loughborough University’s Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology, Tiyeni – a Malawian NGO whose UK arm has funded the development of DBF, The Consortium for Battery Innovation – which has delivered cutting-edge research taking lead batteries to a new level. Aftrak has also been supported by Innovate UK and Varta by Clarios – one of the world’s largest battery manufacturers. 

Dr Carl Telford, Research, and Innovation Director at the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI) said: “We are honoured to have won the Milken-Motsepe Prize in Green Energy against four other extraordinary projects from across the globe.” 

“Aftrak is a key project for CBI because it demonstrates how the new generation of advanced lead batteries integrates very well with solar panels to provide an affordable, safe, and stable energy supply for off-grid rural communities. Recognition in this competition validates the innovation potential of lead batteries for green energy applications, which is great news for our industry.”  

Aftrak is now being deployed in Malawi, where over 60% of the population is multidimensionally poor and close to 90% are without access to electricity.