News

Sector News – December 2016

Global

Making change decisive, the Guardian

Kathy Calvin, President and CEO, the UN Foundation

It was a unique moment when world leaders adopted the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in 2015. Every single government in the world – informed by input from millions of citizens, private sector leaders, and nonprofit experts – came together at the United Nations to agree to a collective, ambitious vision for a better future for everyone, at a time of considerable international tension in other domains. The vision outlined by the 17 SDGs includes the ambition to end poverty and hunger, ensure kids get quality education, empower girls and women as equal to men in all walks of life, and steward natural resources for the future health of all our societies.


The Win, Win, Win of Solar Energy for the Health Sector, the Huffington Post

Solar power offers a compelling trifecta for the world’s health sector: it improves health services when electricity is otherwise unreliable; it helps mitigate climate change; and it saves money that can be reinvested to save even more lives.


Rural electrification: Time to get messy?, Factor E

The story goes that Franklin D. Roosevelt first took an interest in rural electrification while staying at a small cottage in Georgia, where he would get hydrotherapy treatment for his crippling polio. He was apparently unpleasantly surprised at being charged four times the rate per kWh as charged in New York.


New Mission Innovation challenges target “solar fuels”, more clean technologies, See News Renewables

Mission Innovation, a global initiative to speed up clean energy innovation, announced seven innovation challenges, including one to discover affordable ways to make “storable solar fuels”.


Global Solar Demand: Still Shrinking, But at a Lower Rate, Green Tech Media

Next year’s drop in global solar demand might not be as steep as analysts previously thought, according to GTM Research’s latest Global Solar Demand Monitor.


Sphelar Lantern uses micro-sphere solar beads to make solar lighting beautiful, Tree Hugger

These devices help solar lighting move beyond the flatness of traditional photovoltaic cells.


Africa

Can Solar Micro-Grids Transform the African Grid?, the Huffington Post

Nearly 100 million people are now on the first steps of the energy ladder thanks to the rapid deployment of solar home systems in poor communities across the world. That’s incredible progress that marks the beginning, not the end, of clean energy access. With increasing attention being paid to the missing middle (the area where those moving up the energy ladder meet those being forced down by dysfunctional grids reliant on distributed diesel generators) excitement about the opportunity to end energy poverty is palpable. Now an emerging set of micro grid developers are bent on proving they can make good on that promise and potentially transform the architecture of the grid while they’re at it.


Africa Goes Off the Grid to Bring Power to Rural Villages, takepart

Half of Africa’s population lacks access to electricity, but microgrids powered by solar energy are lighting the way to energy independence.


Orange and Engie partner on solar services in Africa, PV Tech

Orange and Engie are reaffirming their 2015 commitment to rural electrification by the distribution of solar kits in a pilot programme across four African countries. Source: Flickr/Magahrebia

Mobile network operator Orange and French renewables firm Engie have launched a plan to deploy nearly 1,000 solar kits in Senegal, Ivory Coast and Cameroon.


Women solar entrepreneurs drive East African business surge, Thomas Reuters Foundation News

As the darkness falls on the plains around Bunambiyu, a remote village in Tanzania’s northern Shinyanga region, Elizabeth Julius switches on her solar lantern to finish sewing clothes for her customers.


Uganda: Government Asks Firms to Invest in Areas With Refugees, All Africa

Private companies involved in production and distribution of energy appliances have been asked to start opening up factories/outlets in refugee settlements in Uganda, to supply the increasing energy needs which have led to the problem of deforestation in these areas.


Ethiopia benefits 3.21 million people via solar energy, Walta Information Center

The Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity said that about 3.21 million people in remote rural areas have become beneficiaries of the solar energy during the last four years.


Nigeria to spend $150 million on rural electrification projects, TheGuardian Nigeria

The Federal Government expressed its readiness to spend 150 million dollars on the rural electrification.


Cloud Energy Offers to Light Up 5,000 Homes with Solar Promo, Nigeria Electricity

Cloud Energy, the energy solutions provider, is offering Nigerians the perfect Christmas gift as it begins the lighting up of 5,000 homes and businesses with solar harvest promo.


Rural Electrification Authority of Kenya commissions 60kW solar power station in Wajir, Construction Review Online

The Rural Electrification Authority last week commissioned its initial 60kW hybrid-mini solar power station in Biyamadhow, Wajir South. It will establish the platform for the rollout of additional 25 similar projects in five counties.


Solar plus storage systems being installed in 25 villages in Mali, PV Magazine

Energy transition start-up Africa Green Tec has entered into a cooperation agreement with German energy storage systems manufacturer Tesvolt to deliver its lithium batteries alongside 50 solar containers, with a total capacity of 3 MWh, to 25 Malian villages.


Sierra Leone News: Lighting up Rural Sierra Leone, Awareness Times

Half a million people over the next four years will benefit from at least 90 mini-grids powered with renewable energy. Initially 50 communities will be electrified in 2017 using mini-grids that will be operated by local entrepreneurs. Sierra Leone’s Minister of Energy, the United Kingdom Government’s Department for International Development (DFID – also known as ‘UK Aid’) and UNOPS gathered at the first steering committee meeting to launch the Rural Renewable Energy Project.


Sierra Leone News: First household solar pilot kits launched in Sierra Leone, Awoko

The Sierra Leone Association for Microfinance Institutions (SLAMFI) and the Renewable Energy Association of Sierra Leone (REASL) came together to launch the pioneering household solar pilot project in the country on the 1st of December. The household solar pilot will enable 1000 families to affordably purchase clean and safe home solar units with help from the Sierra Leone financial sector and build a better understanding of the business opportunities presented by the emerging solar market.


Pay-as-you-go solar systems in rural Senegal give access to electricity, IRENA Newsroom

In the rural village of Salémata, located in the Kédougou region of southern Senegal, 10-year old Omar and his parents used to spend money on costly kerosene and low quality solar torches for basic lighting needs in their house. The kerosene and torches did not provide light for the whole evening, making studying at night a challenge for Omar. Omar’s parents then purchased a pay-as-you-go solar system in hopes that it could solve their lighting and energy problems. Since then, Omar is able to complete his homework every night and has improved his performance at school. And when his homework is done, now he can even watch some football games on TV.


“Going Beyond The Grid” – Energy practitioners to help gov’t power rural communities, Liberian Observer

As Liberians await the first 22-megawatts turbine at the Mt. Coffee Hydro Power Plant to go on line on December 15, the ‘Liberia Energy Access Practitioner’ (LEAP) group has been launched to help government decentralize energy to rural areas in the country.


Experts root for more off-grid power funding to spur access, the New Times

Off-grid power access, including of solar home systems and mini-grids, plays a key role in Rwanda’s ambitious target to extend power to 70 per cent of the population in the medium-term, Morris Kayitare, the director of primary and social energy development at Rwanda Energy Group (REG), has said.


How solar power is bringing food security to Africa, the Ecologist

Malawi is a country on the front line of climate change. Unlike nations ravaged by a typhoon or rich western cities swamped with floodwater, the kind of impacts Malawians face barely raise a flicker of interest in the media. Compared to a hurricane, a few degrees of temperature rise and shifting rainfall patterns sound mild, but in reality they have the potential to be far more devastating.


Zambia building first mini-hydro grid to transmit power from 620-kW Kasanjiku small hydro, HydroWorld.Com

Construction of the first mini-hydro grid has been commissioned by Zambian Vice President Inonge Wina, under the Rural Electrification Authority, according to the Lusaka Times.


Asia

USAID Announces $75 Million Loan Guarantee For Off-Grid Solar In India, Clean Technica

In yet another boost for the small-scale solar power market in India, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced financial support in partnership with an Indian bank.


USAID, RBL Bank Partner to Expand Off-Grid, Rooftop Solar in India, Microgrid Media

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and government are on a drive to extend electricity and power grid access nationwide, even to the least economically developed and most remote rural and Himalayan mountain communities. Off-grid solar energy microgrids have emerged as the most effective, and least polluting, means of doing so, thereby contributing to achieving both national greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction and sustainable development goals.


Fluidic Energy Receives $20 Million Investment from Asia Climate Partners to Expand Renewable Energy Access in Southeast Asia, SAT Press Releases

Fluidic Energy announced today a $20 million investment from Asia Climate Partners (ACP). As a joint venture between the Asian Development Bank, ORIX and Robeco, ACP is a mid-market private equity fund dedicated to clean energy, resource efficiency and environment sectors in the Asia-Pacific region. By supporting Fluidic Energy’s expansion of its game-changing, intelligent and low-cost energy storage technology, ACP hopes to expand renewable energy access in Southeast Asia while limiting carbon-intensive energy adoption and replacing environmentally damaging diesel gen sets.


Grid-Integrated Mini-Grids Could Empower Millions of Indians, the Huffington Post

Despite the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s ambitious targets to deploy at least 10,000 renewable energy-based micro- and mini-grid projects with a minimum installed capacity of 500 MW in the next five years, there is little reliable information available on what the current status is on the ground. Additionally, there are private initiatives such as the Rockefeller Foundation’s US$75 million Smart Power India initiative, which aims to provide electricity in 1000 villages in India. While these are commendable initiatives, much needs to be done to synchronize efforts and build the ecosystem for mini-grids. These ecosystem factors could range from the right technological solution, appropriate financial models, a skilled workforce for servicing and a conducive policy environment.


Women Use Solar Power to Light Up Rural Villages in India, Asia Today

It’s always good to have a friend in high places. Just ask the women from rural villages in Rajasthan state, India. Their friend is the sun. Grouped in a network called Solar Sahelis (Solar Friends), these women form an innovative social enterprise that promotes renewable energy products such as solar-powered lamps and household appliances to communities living in hard-to-reach areas. Around 10 million households—half the homes in Rajasthan—have no electricity at all or unreliable grid power. Alternate sources of power, such as solar systems, are important as they provide basic electric light and power and are cheaper and safer than the kerosene and dry cell batteries currently used in households that lack a reliable electricity supply.


Leading a shift in the narrative on clean energy access in India, the Climate Group

The last few years have seen rapid growth in India’s decentralized renewable energy (DRE) sector with the development of various innovative technical solutions and models. Off-grid solutions have evolved with the falling cost of renewable energy based power and enhanced awareness levels of end-users. This has resulted in the ambitious involvement of private sector players who view their models as superior solutions and are confident enough to use them to enhance energy access. It is pertinent to mention that two distinct parallel solutions are currently prevailing in the rural electrification sector: grid and off-grid.


India: LEDs to be made mandatory in off-grid solar program, Business Standard

Energy efficient light emitting diodes (LED) are to be made mandatory in the national off-grid solar program. “The energy efficiency benefits are tremendous but the combination of LED and solar will be more beneficial for public and private sector projects,” Economic Advisor to the New and Renewable Energy Ministry A.K. Tripathy said at the inauguration of the 15th LED Expo.


In Rajasthan’s villages, solar-powered telecom towers are providing Internet, the Indian Express

People in remote villages of Rajasthan’s Alwar district are catching up on the ‘Digital India’ trail as many of them, including women, have started using internet being provided through unique solar-run telecom towers.  Karenda, Phalsa and Bahadari, the three villages which lie close to the state’s border with Haryana, lack facilities like proper roads, hospitals, post office and police station, but people there have been connected with internet and mobile telephony under an initiative of a private company.


ADB approves $325m loan to connect off-grid areas in K-P, Punjab, the Express Tribune

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Friday approved a $325-million loan to provide electricity to off-grid communities in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Punjab, as almost half of Pakistan’s rural population remains deprived of electricity.


How solar PV is helping China’s poorest, One Step Off the Grid

The residents of Yuexi county, a mountainous area in eastern China, must have thought it was their lucky day when they heard they had been selected for China’s new solar poverty alleviation project.


Indonesia’s new rural electrification regulation, PV Tech

In an unprecedented move, the Directorate General of Electricity under the Indonesian Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources has pushed through a rural electrification regulation recently signed by the new minister, Ignasius Jonan. This regulation provides the framework on how a private business entity can provide electricity to currently un-electrified regions through business area concessions. It also provide ways to calculate and receive electricity subsidies from the government.


PPAF wins prestigious Energy Institute Award 2016, Pakistan Observer

The Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund has received global recognition for its Community Managed Hydropower Plants. The award-winning project is about 55 micro hydro plants completed in Northern Areas during the period 2004 to 2015 with funding from the World Bank and the United States Department of Agriculture The prestigious Energy Institute (EI), UK has selected these PPAF projects in the EI Awards Community Initiative category for 2016. Besides clean energy the project is providing light and much needed economic opportunities through enterprise development for nearly 12,000 households.


Off-grid solar to help Myanmar bring electricity to all by 2030, the Guardian

Four feet in length, of aggressive disposition, and deadly poisonous: you don’t want to stand on a Russell’s viper in the dark. Especially if there’s no antivenom for miles around. Yet that’s the daily predicament facing millions of villagers in Myanmar, where snakebites cause about 500 deaths every year.


Philippines: ESMAP Helps Scale up Renewable Energy Use, Lays the Groundwork for World Bank Investments, ESMAP

The Philippines’ energy sector has experienced more than two decades of significant change. As a consequence of a major supply crisis in the 1980s and 1990s, the sector was almost entirely privatized to promote competition and boost growth. Despite these strides, however, annual per capita electricity consumption is low by middle-income country standards, and prices are extremely high by regional standards. Half of the country’s households, and many businesses, are served by 120 rural electric cooperatives. The remaining unconnected households tend to be remote, dispersed, and poor, making it costly and difficult to get electricity to them.


One village solved Bangladesh’s unreliable energy grid problem with “swarm electrification”, Quartz

In Bangladesh, daily power outages are simply expected. Cities like Dhaka and Chittagong experience around two to three hours of “load shedding” every day when residents are deliberately cut off from electricity in a bid to conserve power. And load shedding happens even more often in rural areas.


Solar progress in Laos hindered by hydro focus, PV Tech

Household solar systems have taken hold in Laos, but PV deployment on a grand scale is being held back by a focus on hydropower, according to delegates at the Solar & Off-Grid Renewables Southeast Asia Event in Bangkok.


Middle East

Solar-powered desalination cuts energy costs by 90%, Israel21c

TSD’s system processes up to 10,000 cubic meters of water per day for small to medium farms, factories, hotels, off-grid sites and disaster areas.


International ‘Off-grid’ Eco Effort Boosts Palestinian Locales’ Infrastructure, Haaretz

Israeli, Palestinian and U.S. ecological activists are providing alternative, cost-saving systems for vital water and waste treatment.


Latin America / the Caribbean

Chile draws plans for more solar, green mining and storage, SeeNews Renewables

Renewables and storage play a major role in Chile’s climate change strategy, with solar cost reductions, greener mining, and the expansion of the local solar supply chain being just a few of the elements in it.


Peru: Off-Grid Solar Start-ups Pierce the ¨Heart of Darkness¨, Microgrid Media

From lanterns and mobile phone chargers to community microgrids, off-grid solar products and services are proving to be the most effective means ever when it comes to bringing clean, efficient and reliable electricity to rural and remote community residents in both industrially developed and developing nations around the world.


Brazil to auction 291MW of off-grid capacity, 20BN Americas

Developers will bid for electricity supply contracts from off-grid plants in Brazil totaling 291MW of capacity at an auction in February.


Sao Tome and Principe: ESMAP Support Leverages World Bank Investment in Renewable Energy and Increasing Access, ESMAP

Located off the western equatorial coast of Central Africa, the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe (STP) is the second smallest country in Africa after Seychelles. In recent years, STP has experienced high economic growth with a 5.2 percent increase in GDP in the past decade. However, this growth has not translated to significant poverty reduction – almost half (47%) of STP’s population is poor.


North America

Totem Power Unveils Solar, Storage, EV Charging Concept for Smart Cities, Green Tech Media

Clean energy solutions need not be limited to rooftops and control rooms, according to the founders of Totem Power, a Bedford, N.Y.-based startup that emerged yesterday from stealth mode. Instead, CEO Brian Lakamp envisions a future where city sidewalks are lined with 18-foot solar-powered towers that provide a suite of energy services where they’re needed most.


Iron Edison Powers Western Canada’s Largest Off-Grid Pure Solar Project, News On 6

An Iron Edison lithium iron battery is now powering Western Canada’s largest off-grid pure solar project, an unmanned site in northern Alberta which is an integral part of ATCO’s telecommunications network.


Europe

Solar power could become cheaper and more widespread, Warwick

A breakthrough in solar power could make it cheaper and more commercially viable, thanks to research at the University of Warwick.


Sweden to ditch tax on solar energy in renewables push, the Local

Sweden is set to ditch taxes on its production of solar energy in 2017 in a bid to run entirely on renewable energy by 2040, the government said on Monday.


Oceania

Tesla runs an entire island on solar power, Engadget

Now that Tesla has officially acquired SolarCity, it’s not wasting any time showing what the combined entity can do. Tesla has revealed that it’s running the island of Ta’u (in American Samoa) on a solar energy microgrid that, at 1.4 megawatts, can cover “nearly 100 percent” of electrical needs. It’s not just the 5,328 solar panels that are key – it’s the 60 Tesla Powerpacks that offer 6 megawatt-hours of energy storage. While Ta’u is normally very sunny, the packs can keep it running for three days without sunlight. They don’t have to worry about a cloudy day leading to blackouts.


Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s, pledge to provide solar power to Pacific Island nations, the Island Sun

Last year, the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, offered to illuminate thousands of homes in Pacific island nations with solar power in a bid to help them combat climate change and natural disasters.


New World Bank project to bring electricity to 2,500 Solomon Islands homes, the World Bank

The Electricity Access Expansion Project will be funded through a US$2.5 million grant from the Global Partnership on Output-Based Aid (GPOBA), through a contribution from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Sweden’s International Development Cooperation Agency. The project is now moving directly towards implementation, and will support increased electricity access across the Solomon Islands through grid extension and the development of mini-grids, directly benefitting approximately 14,250 people in peri-urban and rural areas.