ISA and Birmingham University to Help Farmers Through Solar-Hybrid Cold Chain Technology

The collaboration to help farmers capitalize on chilled food distribution systems powered by solar and solar-hybrid technologies


The University of Birmingham and the International Solar Alliance (ISA) will collaborate to help farmers in countries with abundant and perennial sunshine.

The effort is to help farmers capitalize on chilled food distribution systems powered by solar and solar-hybrid technologies. Birmingham University is the research partner of the ISA in its Solar Cooling Initiative (I-SCI).

The joint effort between the two entities is intended towards planning, research, and delivery of these technologies in ISA member countries. This has always been a part of the agenda for the ISA. The member countries located between the northern and southern hemispherical tropics are under the radar of this project.

“This initiative aims to enable millions of farmers by way of integrating cold-chains that work on solar fully or partially. The focus would be on farm-to-fork supply chains – reducing wastage and increasing farmers’ income, leading to economic wellbeing” said Upendra Tripathy, Director General, ISA, H.E., during the launch of the project.

“This project will align with the ISA’s first program ‘Scaling Solar for Applications in the Agricultural Use’. It is noteworthy that 28 countries have joined this program to install 270,000 solar water pumps for which ISA has launched a global aggregation and price discovery tender,” said Upendra Tripathy stated.

Cold chains are imperative in shipping perishable items, in the absence of which almost 40% of losses can be incurred during the transit from the farmer to the retailer. Using cold chains during the transportation of produce has a positive impact on the economic condition of the farmer. The utilization of this technology decreases food loss. It also helps in receiving most of the revenue from the volume harvested, since the cold chain technology preserves a large percentage of the products.

The downside is that cooling technology contributes significantly to climate change since they are energy-intensive, and to mitigate this effect, they must be powered primarily by clean energy technologies.

“Research in solar energy continues to be important for the University of Birmingham. We believe our partnership with the International Solar Alliance (ISA) will contribute significantly to the advancement of several initiatives, including clean cold, sustainable energy, energy storage, and energy grids,” said Robin Mason, University of Birmingham Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International).

This collective initiative is establishing cold chain distribution for agricultural purposes in countries that lie within the two tropics like India, Brazil, and Egypt, to name a few. The ISA is working with the National Center for cold-chain Development (NCCD) in India to gather expertise and support in the field of cold chain technology. Since these systems are energy-intensive, the use of solar-hybrid technology in these systems will increase efficiency and reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from food loss and waste which are projected at 4.4 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

Recently Mercom reported that the World Bank had come out with a new Efficient, Clean Cooling Program to hasten the acceptance of sustainable cooling solutions, including air conditioning, refrigeration, and cold chain in developing countries.

In recent months, the Commonwealth of Nations and the ISA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to increase solar energy in the Commonwealth member countries.

Image Credit: Rajarshi MITRA [CC BY 2.0]

Ramya Ranganath is an Associate Editor and Writer for Mercom Communications India. Before joining Mercom, Ramya worked as a Senior Editor at a digital media supply chain solutions company. Throughout her career, she has developed end-to-end content for various companies in a wide range of domains, including renewables. Ramya holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from M.S. Ramaiah Institute of Technology and is passionate about environmental issues and permaculture.