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ColdHubs in Nigeria was selected as the winner of the Cooling as a Service (CaaS) Prize thanks to their exemplary CaaS model that saved 20,400 tons of food from spoilage in 2019 alone. The runners up were Energy Partners and Maxwell & Spark.
To qualify for this prize, companies had to share information on implemented pay-per-use cooling/ outsourced cooling projects from Asia, Africa, or Latin America to show how the model works in application. The winners were selected by BASE, leaders of the CaaS Initiative, after reviewing the various entries from around the world.
AND THE WINNER IS…
ColdHubs Ltd. is a social Nigerian enterprise that designs, installs, commissions and operates 100 per cent solar-powered walk-in cold rooms in farm clusters, produce aggregation centers and outdoor markets. They were selected as the Caas Prize winner because of their successful pay-as-you-store solar-powered walk-in cold rooms system for small-scale farmers, demonstrating that this business model has a large potential to make sustainable cooling accessible and competitive.
“We selected ColdHubs as the prize winner because of its exemplary Cooling as a Service model offered to smallholder farmers, retailers and wholesalers, to store and preserve fresh fruits, vegetables and other perishable foods 24/7, extending their shelf life from two days to more than 21 days,” explains Dimitris Karamitsos, Senior Business Developer at BASE for the CaaS Initiative.
ColdHubs’ business model is a simple pay-as-you-store Cooling as a Service model. Farmers and retailers pay 100 Nigerian Naira (equivalent of USD 0.50) to store one 20kg (44lbs) returnable plastic crate per day inside the cold room. Hubs are operated by a female Hub Operator, who monitors the loading and unloading of crates, collects the fees, as well as a Market Attendant who builds relationships in farm clusters and markets. The simplicity of the model, without the requirement to sign any contract, makes this an excellent solution for first-mile cooling.
With this solution, ColdHubs aims to eliminate the impact of food spoilage and lack of small scale post-harvest infrastructure facing 470 million smallholder farmers globally and increase the income of farmers and retailers by eliminating previous losses.
The original “ColdHub” design was for solar-powered cold rooms driven by solar-powered refrigeration units using electrical storage. Now, ColdHubs has developed a second version that uses latent thermal energy storage to reduce the size of the batteries and thereby the cost and environmental impact of the system. The cold rooms operated by ColdHubs use the natural refrigerant propane (R290), which has no Ozone Depletion Potential and a minimal Global Warming Potential.
ColdHubs is currently serving 3,517 farmers, retailers and wholesalers using its 24 installed cold rooms in 18 farms, aggregation centers and markets within the Southern and Northern Regions of Nigeria. 30 more ColdHubs are presently under construction across Nigeria, bringing the projected total number of Hubs, to 54 by the end of 2020.
In 2019, the 24 operational ColdHubs saved 20,400 tons of food from spoilage, increased the household income of their customers by 50 per cent by eliminating food loss, created 48 new jobs for women, and saved 462 tons of CO2 emissions.
“ColdHubs’ solution is a perfect example of how Cooling as a Service can overcome key barriers to adopt clean cooling technology,” says Thomas Motmans, Sustainable Energy Finance Specialist at BASE. “We want to showcase this success story because here is a large opportunity for its wider application in agricultural supply chains to reduce food waste and increase the quality and value of food for small- and medium-scale producers.”
FINALISTS BOAST INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS
Among the short-listed applicants, the second and third place positions were respectively awarded to Energy Partners and Maxwell & Spark. Energy Partners provides Cooling as a Service to Dr Oetker’s production facility in South Africa via a brand new ammonia refrigeration system. Maxwell & Spark was selected for developing “the world’s first zero carbon mobile Cooling-as-a-Service solution” powered by “the world’s first battery-electric truck refrigeration system” which can provide up to 90 per cent cost savings on energy.
“We would like to thank all the applicants for the excellent proposals we have received, and we look forward to sharing more in-depth case studies documentation about the CaaS prize winner and finalists in the near future,” says Motmans.