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Member Highlights – April 2016
Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) has selected ten 2016 New Energy Pioneers – game-changing innovators that are revolutionizing the energy sector, representing a broad range of industries including advanced transportation, bioenergy, energy storage, solar, wind and energy smart technologies. Among them were Practitioner Network members Mobisol and Solarkiosk, both from Germany.
Mobisol, as featured in this month’s newsletter Spotlight below, has equipped more than 40,000 rural homes and businesses with solar home systems in Tanzania and Rwanda – making it one of Africa’s largest and fastest growing providers of off-grid solar systems to homes and businesses. Solarkiosk offers modular off-grid solar powered business centers, enabling last-mile distribution of products and services to untapped markets in remote rural areas worldwide.
By recognizing game-changing innovators, BNEF hopes to illustrate and accelerate the profound transition that is under way in today’s energy system, towards new business models, technologies, market structures and commercial opportunities. For more information on the New Energy Pioneers program, see here.
Ajaita Shah of Frontier Markets wins L’Oreal and NDTV’s Women of Worth award
NDTV, in partnership with global beauty house L’Oréal Paris, launched Women of Worth, a campaign to identify, recognize and award achievements of brave and driven Indian women who have committed themselves to making a difference in the lives of others. These awards aim to bridge not only the gender gap but also regional, sectoral, developmental, linguistic and social imbalances in India.
Practitioner Network member Ajaita Shah, founder of Frontier Markets, won this year’s award in the Environment category for her work in microfinance and clean energy distribution in India over the past 8 years. Frontier Markets is a sales and marketing distribution company that makes quality, affordable clean energy products and goods available to rural India. Frontier Markets offers a unique distribution model as part of its inclusive business commitment, partnering with local entrepreneurs who sell clean-energy products. Using this model, it has sold over 100,000 clean-energy products in Rajasthan. It is present in 16 districts of each state, and aims to reach 50 million households in the next in five years.
Practitioner Network member Schneider Electric and the Rural Electrification Authority of Kenya have provided clean energy to 128 rural schools throughout Kenya in 2015, representing more than 45,000 primary schools pupils who now have access to energy for their education needs.
Lack of electricity in Africa remains one of the biggest barriers to the region’s development and prosperity, and continues to trap millions of people in extreme poverty. A third of all primary schools lack any access to electricity, which means that 90 million students are being educated in places that have no power. In Kenya, where 77% of the 44 million inhabitants have no access to electricity, the government entrusted the Rural Electrification Authority with the responsibility of ensuring that all public primary schools in the country are connected to electricity supply in readiness for the implementation of a global laptop program.
In 2015, Schneider Electric was selected as technical partner and designed a high featured off-grid PV solution, comprising two PV inverters with a solar charge controller. The first PV inverter is dedicated to energy for lighting applications, and the second PV inverter is for computer usage. The two PV inverters are supported by Deep Cycle Solar GEL batteries and Solar PV modules. Schneider Electric is also training local entrepreneurs to install the solutions, as well as a representative from each school to maintain each system and to regulate its usage.
Schatz lab team to study Uganda’s ‘Energy Staircase’
Humboldt State University’s Schatz Energy Research Center is doing a study in Uganda to explore what happens after people make the switch from kerosene lamps to solar-powered products, and how flexible financing influences adoption rates of off-grid technology. Anecdotal evidence of off-grid lighting solutions for developing countries suggests an “energy staircase,” in which some first-time buyers of small solar-powered products (i.e., solar lanterns) eventually buy larger and more expensive home systems while often also keeping the old technology.
Through a $150,000 grant from the United Nations Capital Development Fund’s CleanStart Program, the Schatz Lab team will put the energy staircase theory to the test. Over the next year, they will use a random sample of hundreds of off-grid solar product buyers in Uganda to examine if, how, and why customers buy these products and services. The findings will be released in 2017.
On the main stage of TERI’s Lighting A Billon Lives Convention on 11 April 2016 in New Delhi, the Smart Villages Initiative announced Practitioner Network member Naturetech as the winner of the Off-grid Energy Impact Competition for India. Energy entrepreneurs from across the nation entered this competition, designed to highlight cases where access to energy has acted as a catalyst for development in rural Indian villages, recognize and support energy entrepreneurs who are already impacting the lives of rural villagers, and inspire more Indian and South Asian entrepreneurs to get involved in the energy sector.
Two out of the three finalists, Naturetech and Lytyfy, are Practitioner Network members. Naturetech installs mini-grids that provide energy beyond household-level lighting, including street lights for increased safety, school connections for better education, and food processing plants for better health and nutrition. Lytyfy’s unique model combines crowdfunding, microfinance and off-grid energy access: Through an online platform, individuals can lend money to people in rural communities to help finance the purchase of solar panels.
Two other Practitioner Network members, Mlinda and Global Himalayan Expedition, were also acknowledged among the five honorable mentions in this competition for making great strides in improving energy access to India’s rural populations. All finalists and honorable mention finalists will receive business support from the Entrepreneurial Development Institute of India, facilitated by the Gujarat CSR Authority.
Orb Energy and Simpa Networks receive USAID grant for fighting poverty
Practitioner Network members Orb Energy and Simpa Networks are among eight organizations to receive a US $5 million grant from USAID for finding innovative ways to end extreme poverty. The awards are funded through the Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) program, a year-round open competition that seeks innovative, breakthrough development solutions.
Orb Energy and Simpa, both India-based organizations, will receive grants for social impact, improved outcomes, and market viability, as well as for building pathways to sustainability. Orb Energy has developed in-house financing solutions to make energy access via solar systems more affordable to small- and medium-sized enterprises seeking solar systems in India. Simpa provides pay-as-you-go solar home systems to rural households and small shops in India, allowing low-income customers to finance ownership of the system over time.
Boiling Point Issue 68, “Energy in Emergency Settings”, is now available for download on HEDON’s website. This issue specifically addresses energy access in humanitarian contexts, capitalizing on this year’s first ever World Humanitarian Summit, where energy leaders will encourage decision makers to address the urgent need for increased access to cleaner and more efficient cookstoves, fuels, and renewable energy products in humanitarian settings.
The issue highlights energy in emergency settings through various contributions: an article written by Chatham House; viewpoints of representatives from the FAO and UNHCR Rwanda; the SET4food guidelines; and updates from the University of Nottingham UK, GIZ, UNHCR and the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. Featured articles include:
- Moving Energy Initiative: Estimating the global energy use of forcibly displaced people. (Chatham House)
- Clean and safe energy for cooking: Ethiopian Jigjiga refugee camps. (Gaia Association)
- Safe Access to Fuel and Energy: A lifeline for refugee women and girls. (Women’s Refugee Commission)
- “With light there is more life”: Energy access for safety, health and wellbeing in emergencies. (MercyCorps)
GSMA highlights the work of Practitioner Network members in feature reports
GSMA’s Mobile for Development Utilities Programme has released a number of feature reports of their grant recipients, including Practitioner Network members Mobisol (feature report), Fenix International (feature report), and Emergence BioEnergy (feature report). The reports introduce each grantee’s business model, market opportunity, results, challenges and lessons learned as applicable.
2016 marks the fourth year of operation for GSMA’s Mobile for Development Utilities Programme. To date, it has achieved the following:
- Across two phases of funding, £5.6 million has been awarded to 34 organizations to trial and/or scale the use of mobile to improve or increase access to energy, water and sanitation services.
- More than 200 concept notes were submitted by organizations across Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania in 2015.
- The fund was 10 times oversubscribed (£32 million requested in total), and 21 grants have been awarded.
For further information about the grantees, or to access the concept note pipeline, please contact M4DUtilities@gsma.com.
Stiftung Solarenergie leads first solar village and mobile payment system in Cambodia
In Cambodia, where according to the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME), only 55% of the population had access to electricity in 2015, catalyzing the electrification of rural areas is a significant task. In 2015, Stiftung Solarenergie and its local partners have begun addressing this gap, electrifying a whole village with solar PV and in introducing a mobile payment system – the SunControl-Payment-System – to traditional Solar Home Systems (SHS) in use.
This “Solar Village” concept, first introduced by Stiftung Solarenergie in 2004 in Ethiopia and then replicated four times in Africa and Asia, aims to show that, through the sustainable solarization of an entire village (including households, public buildings and other infrastructure), decentralized solar technology is able to foster economic and social development. To ensure the long-term success of such projects, the foundation approach usually consists of partnering, defining and implementing the project with likeminded local partners also striving for the sustainability of their actions. In the case of Cambodia, these actors were NRG Solutions, Camkids and Sevea. Practitioner Network member NRG Solutions, a Cambodian social enterprise providing sustainable and affordable energy to rural areas, serves as the local installer, trainer and provider of after-sales service.
Positive feedback has not been slow to arrive: just a few weeks after the official launch of the projects and the installations of the solar systems, families stressed the improvement in the village; not only regarding the expanded possibilities to work in the evening or early in the morning, but also due to the fact that the very time-consuming transport of the car batteries to the charging station is no longer necessary. In addition, they mentioned that they were particularly happy with the quality of the troubleshooting services, rarely seen in such villages.
Impact assessment February 2016: Download here.
ACCIONA Microenergia brings light to rural Mexico
Together with the government of the State of Oaxaca and the Spanish Agency of International Development Cooperation, Practitioner Network member ACCIONA Microenergia Foundation has deployed a program called Luz en casa Oaxaca to facilitate access to electricity in isolated rural communities that are not included in the national grid extension plans of the Mexican government. The program aims to facilitate access to electric lighting via solar home systems to areas with a household population of less than 100 inhabitants in the State of Oaxaca, where the Federal Electricity Commission has no plans for electrification. The program’s goal is to reach 25,000 beneficiaries in 2012-2016.