Efficiency for Access

Solar cooling key components for a better access to refrigeration in the agri-food sector

04/2019 - 12/2022


General Overview

The Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund from UK Aid and IKEA Foundation awarded Solar Cooling Engineering for the development of key cooling components that can be built locally by small-scale farmers, entrepreneurs or local companies under the SelfChill approach. This reduces costs and allows the cooling systems to be adapted to the individual’s needs, value chains and local context. The project’s approach is based on providing key components that allow for modular installation of cold rooms and other cooling solutions, using locally sourced materials The vision behind is the promotion of sustainable cooling solutions under following aspects:

  • Environmental protection: 100% Solar, natural refrigerants with low global warming potential (GWP), thermal storage systems, circular economy
  • Job creation and empowerment: Simple technology, easy to design and build with the possibility to use locally sourced materials
  • Adaptation to the local context: Modular design for different sizes, temperatures, and value chains (cold rooms, milk tanks, fridges and ice maker)


Solar Cooling Engineering GmbH (SCE) is a spin-off company of the University of Hohenheim in Germany. It was founded in 2018 after 6 years of research. Solar Cooling Engineering developed components suitable for the local production of cooling systems powered by solar (The SelfChill Approach) and joined efforts with the solar company, Phaesun GmbH for the commercialization of components and solutions though long-term partnerships in Africa. 

The research and development objectives were highly inspired by the challenges and lessons learnt from former projects that took place at the University of Hohenheim by piloting cooling systems in the tropics and subtropics.

The Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund was launched in November 2018 and aims to accelerate innovation in off-grid and weak grid appliance technologies. Efficiency for Access is investing funding into research and development (R&D) projects with the aim to accelerate the availability, affordability, efficiency and performance of a range of low energy inclusive appliances that are particularly suited to developing country contexts and promote social inclusion.


Project Outcome

  • Development and construction of medium-scale example systems for training purposes
  • Cost reduction strategies for key components and further development of design tools and trainings concepts.
  • Field Trial of the SelfChill Approach. Implementation of remote monitoring and PAYG compatibility in the actual solar cooling units.
  • Adaptation of test facilities to new standards. Development of test methods for the developed example systems
  • Research on new solar cooling units suitable for DC direct drive and AC Mini Grids
  • Field Trial of a medium-scale solar cold rooms. Development of smart control algorithms suitable for different applications, energy source configuration, including modularity concepts
  • Promotion of local production, development of business cases, final project assessment and evaluation