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Sector News – July 2016 | Energy Access Practitioner Network


Sector News – July 2016



Solar Power Is Finding Its Day in the Sun, Fortune

Solar power is on pace for the first time this year to contribute more new electricity to the grid than will any other form of energy—a feat driven more by economics than green mandates. The cost of electricity from large-scale solar installations now is comparable to and sometimes cheaper than natural gas-fired power, even without incentives aimed at promoting environmentally friendly power, according to industry players and outside cost studies.

From basket weavers to salt farmers: the women leading a renewables revolution, the Guardian

From female basket weavers in Tanzania to the women farming salt in Gujarat, social enterprises are helping women become clean energy entrepreneurs.

The Future of Energy: It’s the Developing World’s Turn to Shine, Green Money Journal

By 2050, the world will consume 61 percent more energy than it does today. This should be good news, for, as access to reliable, affordable energy increases, so does the quality of life for hundreds of millions of people. Energy keeps schools and businesses running, computers working, cities shining, and cars moving. Without the availability of energy, the global poverty rate could not have dropped by more than half since 1990, allowing the opportunity to improve lives across a wide sphere. And yet, in a skewed parallel, 1.3 billion people lack access to the most basic energy services and the economic, environmental and health benefits they provide. Furthermore, many are at a disproportionate risk to the world’s most pressing climate change threats. For example, the Carteret Islanders of Papua New Guinea have become the world’s first entire community to be displaced by climate change, recently packing up their lives to move out of the way of ever-rising waters that threaten to overtake their homes, their crops, and their history.

Siemens to Invest $1.1B in Decentralized Electricity Startups and Other Disruptive Tech, Microgrid Knowledge

Siemens plans to launch a new unit October 1 that will invest more than $1.1 billion over five years in decentralized electricity startups and other fledgling disruptive technology companies.

Caterpillar’s hybrid microgrid promises much for the powerless, Decentralized Energy

Caterpillar has arguably done more than most in the realm of corporate social responsibility over the many decades of its existence, in terms of bringing power to areas of the world that suffer from remoteness and relative impoverishment. Its latest offering builds on that legacy.

Solar power for Africa? Donor nations can’t just toss money at the challenge, the Christian Science Monitor

Alongside a heightened global focus on reducing carbon emissions is this challenging reality of human well-being: An estimated 1.2 billion people worldwide lack access to electricity. So it’s not surprising that, from Washington to Beijing, experts and policy makers are brainstorming ways to provide developing countries with access to clean energy. And they’re finding that the hurdles go well beyond developing the right energy technologies or gathering initial seed money to start deploying them.

Life in a Refugee Settlement without Energy, United Nations Foundation

By Halima Mohamed, a Somali refugee living in Nakivale Settlement in Uganda, where she serves as a Refugee Ambassador for UNHCR

My name is Halima. Three years ago I was forced to flee from my home in Somalia. I could no longer cope with the bombings and destruction that were being caused by Al-Shabaab. Everyone around me was dying. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters. We knew it wouldn’t be long until something happened to us too if we stayed.


Meet Africa’s off-grid entrepreneurs, Management Today

Solar power, mobile money, even drones – Africa’s entrepreneurs don’t lack creative ways to circumvent patchy infrastructure. But without proper investment even the best bootstrapping can only go so far.

Engie Seeks to Tap Off-Grid Solar to Power Millions in Africa, Bloomberg

Engie SA is seeking to become a player in the off-grid solar industry, one of the first major utilities to work directly in that niche of the energy system.

Solar-powered irrigation promises relief to southern Africa, but is it sustainable?, Humanosphere

Solar-powered irrigation has the potential to overcome the effects of drought throughout Africa as well as grow businesses to help overcome climactic shocks. But, in the face of unprecedented drought, can it overcome the challenges of growing water scarcity in rural areas of the developing world?

Conditions are right for off-grid electrification of Africa, Horizon, the EU Research & Innovation Magazine

Mini-grids, mobile payments and smart meters are all helping to create an off-grid model of electricity provision in Africa, helped by bottom-up funding and low-cost solar power, according to Michael Gera, managing partner and co-founder of specialist venture capitalist firm Energy Access Ventures (EAV). 


Solution to Africa’s struggling energy sector lies ‘beyond-the-grid’, PV Tech

Off-grid solar should be “at the heart of Africa’s energy future”, British MP Nick Hurd said at an industry event on Friday. The theme for the continent’s up-and-coming energy industry is for financiers to create and adopt solutions that integrate all types of energy resolutions, such as mini-grids and residential solar systems, according to a panel at the Africa Energy Forum, which Hurd was participating in.

Renewable Africa: The future is clean, Africa Middle East

The developed world has spent over a century thoroughly addicted to fossil fuels, and such entrenched habits are proving hard to kick. On the other hand, Africa is bubbling with the promise of a renewable energy explosion.

Chinese Companies Increasingly Important In Sub-Saharan Africa Power Sector, Clean Technica

Chinese companies are becoming increasingly important in the sub-Saharan Africa power sector, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency.

Metair acquires 25% of East African battery and solar power group, Engineering News

Manufacturer, distributor and retailer of energy storage solutions and automotive components, Metair, announced on Monday that it had acquired 25% of Kenya-based Associated Battery Manufacturers East Africa (Abmeal), and its subsidiaries, at a price tag of $7.3-million.

Mini Grids: Bringing Low-Cost, Timely Electricity to the Rural Poor, the World Bank

John Akwa is a metal fabricator in the remote town of Entasopia, 50 kilometers from the nearest power line in Kenya’s desolate Rift Valley. Iron welding, a precision task often requiring high amounts of electricity, is one of the main economic activities in the region and the primary source of Akwa’s income.

Inside Ghana’s first module manufacturing facility, PV Tech

For a country that caps solar energy project sizes to just 20MW and only had its first major utility-scale project come online this year, Ghana’s announcement of a 30MW module manufacturing facility outside the capital city of Accra turned more than a few heads this year.

World Bank okays Sh440bn for rural power, the Citizen

The World Bank yesterday approved $200 million (about Sh440 billion) loan to boost connection of more Tanzanian rural households to electricity.

Unless investors see light on solar, women will still give birth in the dark, the Guardian

High in the Usambara Mountains of northern Tanzania, a woman prepares to give birth in the pitch black. Her family clusters around her. With no electricity at the birthing clinic, someone shines a mobile phone above the midwife’s head.

Energy policies for off-grid villages in Tanzania, Smart Villages

nergy policies for off-grid villages in Tanzania

It is hard to talk about development in off-grid villages without talking about energy. Health, education, food security, productive enterprise and environmental well-being, as well as participatory democracy, can all be achieved if good policies are in place, but they depend not only on access to energy but on the provision of information.

IKEA of energy delivers clean, green solar power-plant in a box, New Scientist

Here’s a bright idea for flat-packing. A German start-up has figured out how to cram an entire solar power plant into a shipping container. It has sent its first kits to off-grid villages in Africa, where they provide a new source of clean, affordable electricity after just 2 hours of assembly.

Uganda green energy program also keeps refugee women safe from assault, the Seattle Globalist

Small, low-cost houses roofed with iron sheets dot a vast stretch of low-lying land in western Uganda. This is Kyaka II refugee settlement, home to tens of thousands of people from Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi and other countries.

Solar nano-grids light up homes and businesses in Kenya, Press Release Rocket

Villagers in Lemolo B and Echareria in Nakuru County, Kenya, are waking up today to a new future as new solar nano-grids installed over the last two weeks allow them to switch on lights and operate new agri-processing machinery. The two communities are the first to receive a revolutionary new model for clean, affordable and reliable energy where a central solar hub provides both commercial energy for new village enterprises and household energy using cutting-edge up-cycled laptop batteries. The hub allows energy to be shared between households, businesses and the community, bringing economic, social and environmental benefits.

Aquion Announces Off-Grid Battery and Solar Energy Project in Africa, Aquion Energy Blog

Aquion Energy, Inc., manufacturer of Aqueous Hybrid Ion (AHI™) batteries and energy storage systems, and SolarAfrica, a leading African Solar Energy Services Company, today announced a newly installed off-grid microgrid at the Loisaba Conservancy, which is a hub for wildlife research and a world-class ecotourism destination in Kenya, East Africa. The microgrid, which was funded, designed, installed, and integrated by SolarAfrica, consists of two independent systems, each of which has 106 kWh of Aquion batteries paired with a 37 kW solar array. This off-grid solar-plus-storage system has replaced diesel generators to power a commercial laundry, swimming pool, kitchen, business services, lighting, cooling, and other facility loads.

Access to power supply tops African business agendas, IT Web Africa

Aside from the availability of skills and the need to create a skilled workforce, businesses in Africa are acutely aware of the impact of a lack of a fully functional electricity grid.

How women are reaping benefits from Africa’s solar revolution, E & E News

For girls in Berta Massawe’s Tanzanian village of Kibosho, every day was a race against the clock — or, more accurately, against the sun.

Fake and Defective Solar Products for Sale – The disheartening status of solar photovoltaic modules in Malawi, Sun-Connect News

In Malawi, and other places in Africa, the markets are flooded with extraordinarily poor quality and counterfeit imported solar photovoltaic (PV) modules and equipment. Malawi is one of the least developed countries in the world; less than 10% of the overall population and less than 1% of the rural population has access to the National Electric Grid. Because of this, consumer demand is strong for technologies like solar PV that can generate off-grid electricity. To address this demand, retailers throughout Mzuzu, the third-largest city in Malawi, carry a wide variety of solar technology products; from solar panels and LED lights to batteries, inverters and charge controllers.

Minister urges Malawians in Lower Shire to embrace solar powered irrigation technology, Nyasa Times

Malawi Government has handed over three solar powered irrigation sites worth MK300 million to communities in Chikwawa and Nsanje with the hope to curb the hunger which is wreaking havoc in the country.

Camusat Connects for Its Client a Village of 5,000 Inhabitants in Madagascar Thanks to Its Low Cost Rural Solution, Business Wire

Camusat, one of the market leaders in developing telecom infrastructures, is pleased to reveal the results of the first site implemented in Madagascar using its rural solution. Installed and commissioned in 5 days, this 100% solar powered and non-concrete telecom site enables Camusat’s mobile operator client to link an unconnected village of 5,000 inhabitants to mobile networks.


How many people does it take to change a light bulb?, the World Bank

Riddle us this. In what country are…

  • 450 million ceiling fans already in use, 40 million new ones sold every year?
  • 350 million fluorescent tube lights already in use, 10 million new sold every year?
  • 30 million air conditioners already in use, three million new sold every year?

If you guessed India, you are right.


Solar Energy to Power India of the Future, the World Bank

The World Bank Group is moving to help India deliver on its unprecedented plans to scale up solar energy, from installing solar panels on rooftops to setting up massive solar parks. This will catapult India to the forefront of the global effort to bring electricity to all, mitigate the effects of climate change, and set the country on a path to become the ‘India of the future’.

How affordable solar energy is transforming lives in India, GreenBiz

The world is in the midst of a solar power revolution. In under two decades, the solar PV industry has evolved from being niche to one poised to take on the utility incumbents as an affordable mainstream energy source. However, right now solar and wind still make up only 1 to 2 percent of the global energy mix.

India’s ‘Unprecedented’ Plan To Bring Millions Out Of Poverty And Power Them With Clean Energy, Climate Progress

Three years ago, Tarabhai Lakshmi Koli, 43, her construction worker husband, and their two grown sons, moved into their first real house in Siddapurwadi, a rural remote hamlet of 500 households in southern India, about 370 miles from Bangalore. But it lacked one important necessity: electricity.

ICMR signs pact to provide healthcare to rural areas, Press Trust of India

Aiming to provide healthcare to the most remote areas in the country by reducing “uncertainty” in electricity supply through solar solutions, a policy research institute has signed a pact with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Mini grid plants in Bihar serve a mix of households, shops & commercial customers, The Bihar

Raj Kumar Shah a resident of Siwan district exemplifies entrepreneurs whose businesses have grown over the past few months owing to the setting up of a Decentralized Renewable Energy (DRE) mini grid plant under the Smart Power for Rural Development (SPRD) programme.

Million Solar Urja Lamps (SoUL) Program… to guarantee clean light to every student in India, the Hans India

The Indian Institute of Technology Bombay has always been a strong advocate for ‘Right to Light’. On successful completion of the much-appreciated Million Solar Urja Lamp (SoUL) programme, … IIT Bombay has submitted a proposal to MNRE to further expand the project and implement it across the nation.

How India’s ‘smart villages’ are centralising solar power, BBC News

The Indian government has committed 980bn rupees ($14.5bn; £10.9bn) to a flagship smart cities’ program, but the social entrepreneur behind the country’s first smart village thinks they’ve missed some low-hanging fruit.

Successful sale of solar assets driving confidence in the sector, Bridge to India

As the Indian solar sector grows, there has been growing pressure on Indian project developers to churn their capital. The merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in the sector is gathering pace and it is believed that as many as 3,000 MW of projects are on sale right now. Last week, a report quoted that IDFC Alternatives, an Indian private equity fund, is in advanced discussions to buy 275 MW of solar assets from Acme Solar (refer). This comes on the heels of successful closure of Welspun’s sale of 990 MW of solar assets to Tata Power (refer) and another reported sale of 337 MW of renewables capacity by NSL to Brookfield Asset Management.

Frontier Markets walks the last mile to distribute solar products, India Climate Dialogue

More than 200 women have fanned across the desert state of Rajasthan in western India to spread awareness on products powered by solar energy amongst poor people living in hard-to-reach villages. Called Solar Sahelis (solar women friends), they are part of an innovative social enterprise that is bridging the last-mile gap in marketing renewable energy products such as lamps and household appliances in a state that receives 300 to 350 days of clear, sunny days.

PAYG solar in Asia: opportunities and experiences from MWC Shanghai 2016, GSMA

CEOs of leading mobile operators and key mobile industry players convened last week for GSMA Mobile World Congress Shanghai, to discuss trends and opportunities in Asian markets. Delegates will celebrate the billions of unique subscribers across Asia, but more importantly debate the opportunity and responsibility presented by this existing ecosystem to deliver crucial services in the region.

Renewables fuel optimism in Nepal, Eco-Business

More than a million extra small biogas plants in Nepal could stop forest destruction and reduce the country’s large import bill for fossil fuels ? but much more investment is needed to help the impoverished country reach its goals.

100,000 low-income families to get solar energy, Dhaka Tribune

Infrastructure Development Company Ltd yesterday signed a financing agreement for a project of Power Division called development of sustainable renewable energy power generation aimed at low-income households.

Latin America & Caribbean

PV energy for Caribbean mobile phone network provider, Green Business Guide

Steady developments of new technologies as well as an increasing need of staying online and connected on an international level require reliable internet and mobile phone connections – even in the most remote locations.

North America

Big solar is leaving rooftop systems in the dust, Reuters

Solar power is on pace for the first time this year to contribute more new electricity to the grid than will any other form of energy – a feat driven more by economics than green mandates.

Advanced Microgrid Solutions Closes Transaction with Macquarie Capital to Provide Capital for $200 Million of Cutting Edge Energy Storage Projects, PR Newswire

Advanced Microgrid Solutions (“AMS”), a pioneer in the energy storage services market, today announced the completion of a transaction with Macquarie Capital, the corporate advisory, capital markets and principal investing arm of Macquarie Group, to provide capital for the joint development and construction of a $200m fleet of the company’s landmark energy storage projects.

Alaska Pioneers Microgrid Technology, MeriTalk

Small, remote Alaskan villages that are alienated from large power sources increasingly rely on microgrids as a practical energy solution. According to a blog post from Matt Erskine, deputy assistant secretary of the Economic Development Administration, Alaska stands as a leading pioneer in microgrid technology.

$16M in federal energy grants announced for rural Alaska, Bristol Herald Courier

Rural communities in Alaska are set to receive more than $16 million in federal grants to go toward their energy projects.


Fancy life in an eco-village? Welcome to the hi-tech off-grid communities, the Guardian

Residents in an eco-village project piloted in the Netherlands will produce solar and biogas power, grow their food and recycle waste into fertilizer.


Stand-alone solar and battery storage trial kicks off in rural Western Australia, One Step Off The Grid

Western Australian utility Western Power has installed six stand-alone solar and battery storage power systems at six different properties around the state as part of $4 million pilot project which aims to shape the future of how electricity can be delivered to rural and remote customers.

Mercedes Benz set to launch home battery storage in Australia, One Step Off The Grid

Australia’s burgeoning residential battery storage market is set to have yet another contender come September, with the release of a modular 2.5kWh lithium-ion product by prestige car maker Mercedes Benz.

ATA wins award for bringing solar lighting to East Timor, ALER

The Australian Alternative Technology Association (ATA) has won the United Nations Association of Australia World Environment Day Clean Energy Award for bringing solar lighting to remote villages in East Timor.