The Productive Side of DRE: From Rural Development to DRE Scalability

David Lecoque, CEO a.i., ARE

Africa, Industry & Energy: Network & Collaboration for the Development of Commercial & Industrial Markets

Luca Traini, Senior Business Development & Partnership Officer, RES4Africa Foundation

Industries face countless challenges on a daily basis, such as galloping technological progress, possibilities and problems associated with internationalisation, crises that bend economies worldwide. While the rest of the world continues to cope with these issues, in Africa - the continent with the greatest energy potential - one of the main limitation of companies remains access to quality energy service: according to a study by RES4Africa Foundation, 80% of firms in the sub-Saharan area suffer from frequent power outages ranging from 15 to 60 hours per month.

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This translates in considerable annual economic losses for many companies, with an average of 8% of the total turnover, corresponding to 2% of annual GDP. The poor quality of services is a main condition at the basis of the slow industrialisation process, which plays a restraining role in the economic and social growth of Africa: the continent, in fact, allocates less than a ¼ of total final energy consumption to industrial and other productive uses.

Commercial & Industrial clients need reliable and affordable power to run their business. From the mining sector to the agri-food processing and the manufacturing facilities, industrial players are still affected by the low power quality of the national grid and paying indirect costs such as loss of production, damage of the equipment, fuel cost for back-up diesel generator.

Once again, renewables appear to offer a concrete solution: a combination of high energy costs and falling solar module prices is driving solar energy sales directly to commercial and industrial customers. With only 74 MW of solar installed capacity recorded in SSA, the C&I market is still small, but it has great potential and is expected to grow in the next few years. This trend could represent a solution to quickly overcome the state of unsafe electricity supply in which the economies of many sub-Saharan countries are constrained by contingent liabilities of states, and in many cases it does not requires major regulatory adjustments.

African countries need to attract investors to stimulate the energy sector and, therefore, accelerate industrial and socio-economic growth. RES4Africa is looking at this market segment to identify the main opportunities and propose available solutions to overcome the barriers of the current regulatory framework and accelerate investments. Therefore, it will be crucial to strengthen the collaboration with associations that have been active for years in the sector such as ARE and to speak with one voice on the success of advocacy activities and dialogue with governments.


Productive Use of Energy – More Than a Buzzword

While not a new concept, Productive Use of Energy (PUE) has recently become a buzzword amongst energy access practitioners. As the off-grid electrification sector matures, the focus on PUE seems a logical next step to stimulate (socio)economic development. But how can we turn a buzzword into viable business cases?

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The use of energy for income-generating activities can help to improve the viability of business models. Various new initiatives and programmes are emerging to stimulate productive uses of energy and integrate it into existing and new business models.

The EnDev Learning & Innovation group on PUE, led by SNV, aims to learn about successful approaches promoting PUE by sharing and analysing (project) experiences.

An initial analysis by SNV shows that development organisations and companies, engaging in PUE for various reasons, use different PUE definitions and objectives. This sometimes leads to misalignment in goal setting and measurement of success, e.g. PUE solely aimed at improving the viability of business models, or PUE to achieve broader socio-economic goals.

Standardisation of PUE definitions, dissemination of knowledge and toolkits, and more exchange on successes and challenges can help to create a better understanding of effective PUE promotion interventions.

The PUE focus in the energy access sector is nascent, and few examples exist of scalable business models. Most market development support is focused on pilots and grants for R&D, innovations and early-stage businesses.

The sector should take a more pro-active approach to design support measures that facilitate scalability. This requires an approach where R&D, business development support and market development are simultaneously addressed. Intensified collaboration is needed between researchers, manufacturers, distributors, NGOs, financial institutions and governments. This can be achieved through integrated, flexible project designs including phased grant and support measures, cross-sectoral partnerships, space for innovation and longer funding cycles.

In challenging times, collective effort is needed to move the sector forward. This is an opportunity to learn and work together to make Productive Use of Energy not just a buzzword but an integral part of energy access.

SNV has experience with PUE promotion in the energy-agriculture nexus and specifically in commercial settings: integrating PUE into agricultural value chains to increase climate resilience (CRAFT, INCREASE, DFCD), using RBF mechanisms to stimulate PUE adoption (BRILHO Mozambique, EnDev Tanzania, EnDev Kenya), improving the viability of a mini-grid through productive uses (Mashaba mini-grid, Zimbabwe) and by promoting farmer-led and market-based smart water products and services (SWA, Kenya).


Unlocking the Potential of Economic Growth

Safe, affordable and reliable access to electricity in rural communities has become priority for national governments. The benefits are clear: improved quality of life, better access to healthcare, improved education for children, and sustainable economic growth.

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Electricity service can provide communities with opportunities to generate additional income through business activities. Over the 50+ years of implementing electrification programmes worldwide, NRECA International has learned that it is critical to also implement productive use of electricity (PUE) programmes to help those who receive electricity access with the means and knowledge to generate income.

NRECA International implements PUE programmes in developing countries to support local enterprises like grain mills, dairy farmers and coffee growers. This is done by facilitating loans and advising farmers to mechanize their mills to increase yield and generate more income, and also give electric service providers tools they need to support their communities. This can be crucial to ensure the survival and success of these small enterprises, which in turn can unlock the full potential economic growth in communities.

Helping Farmers

In Uganda, NRECA International is supporting the government’s Rural Electrification Administration’s mission to transform the socio-economic status of its rural communities by extending electricity services. In addition to producing a master electrification plans for the entire country, the team recently completed an analysis to expand PUE in the agricultural sector in rural and peri-urban parts of the country. Financed by the US Agency for International Development, the team designed a PUE programme that included conducting a market analysis of eight value chain commodities using electricity-powered equipment, like mills, refrigerators, and welding equipment; defining financial plans or resources to help farmers or businesses buy the right equipment; and a develop plans to help businesses make informed investment decisions to make sure they result in income growth.

Working with Small Businesses

In Ghana, the Millennium Challenge Corporation asked NRECA International to investigate how small businesses in specific markets can improve their businesses by using electricity more productively. In this case, examining more efficient use of electricity (not just access) to increase income growth. This effort was designed to help electricity-intensive businesses to achieve higher profits in certain markets and economic enclaves.

Understanding the needs of a community

Access to electricity is a key contributing factor to grow income and contributes to business expansion. Sustained and long-term access to capital to finance service expansion is necessary to support economic growth but is not, by itself, sufficient.  Since its inception, NRECA International’s team of rural electrification experts have focused programme resources to go beyond infrastructure development. The legacy inherited from the American electric cooperative movement almost 100 years ago guides the team to examine the means necessary to support income growth potential in communities and improve people’s lives. There is no short cut to long-term success: developing strong partnerships with communities is necessary for overall sustained economic growth AND achieving overall electrification goals.

Enabling the Productive Use of Energy

Despite a notable improvement in the last decade, 789 million people still lack access to electricity and about 3 billion people rely on wood, charcoal, crop waste and coal for cooking and heating.

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Access to clean, affordable and reliable energy is vital for social and economic development and to power sustainable growth. It is needed to improve livelihood in developing countries, ensuring access to clean water, cooking and health care. Sustainable energy also powers agriculture, business and industry, thus creating prosperity, jobs and opportunities. Likewise, addresses environmental degradation and tackles climate change.

With this in mind and aligned with its Access to Energy (A2E) strategy, in 2018 EDP launched the “A2E CSR Fund” with the aim to alleviate energy poverty, by supporting sustainable and clean energy projects that promote the environmental, social and economic development of rural communities in African developing countries. It focuses on five areas in which energy plays a crucial role: education, health, water and agriculture, business and the community.

With ‘Energy & Water and Agriculture’ being the most frequent project category applying to the Fund, it reveals the great weight of the water-food-energy nexus to sustainable development. Energy and water are vital to satisfy basic human needs, food production for a rising population and achieve economic growth.

Focusing on sustainable agriculture, water and food security, the Co-operative Bank Foundation partnered with seven Schools in arid and semi-arid areas of Kenya to introduce 12 solar powered greenhouses as part of the Agribusiness Club for students. The greenhouses will provide students with an opportunity to learn and apply new techniques in agriculture and help them to develop entrepreneurship and business management skills.

The crops include vegetables and fruits, which will be used to enhance the nutrition and food supply level of the school diet. The surplus is sold in the local markets and to the students’ families and the funds can be used in any innovative projects proposed by the students, following an “earn as you learn” model.

Through this project, co-financed by EDP, Co-operative Bank Foundation is demonstrating to schools, students and communities how to ally science and technology with agriculture, to ensure the production of high-quality, competitive products and develop the skills of youth.

The 13 projects supported to date, selected in the different areas of activity according to criteria such as social impact, sustainability, and expansion potential, have a budget of around €1 million for 2019-20 and will benefit more than 1 million in Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and Malawi.

Aimed at both profit and nonprofit organizations, EDP will launch a 3rd edition of the A2E CSR Fund, providing each selected project with financial support ranging from €25,000 to €100,000.

Transforming African Rural Livelihoods through Solar Irrigation

In most of sub-Saharan Africa, few rural communities have access to electricity. Economic opportunities are often limited to subsistence farming relying on rain-fed agriculture and grazing livestock. The effects of climate change are becoming a growing challenge in many areas, making harvests unreliable.

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Access to reliable irrigation systems can be transformative but has not been available to most farmers in Africa. However, in recent years, the falling costs of decentralised solar power, have brought new possibilities - either through stand-alone solar pumps or irrigation systems linked to mini-grids.

Practical Action has been working in Gwanda district in Southern Zimbabwe, where most rural communities lack access to electricity and food security is a problem due to erratic rainfalls. In the past, there had been access to irrigation in the area through diesel pumps but the schemes have fallen into disrepair and diesel has become increasingly scarce and expensive. In Mashaba, our Sustainable Energy for Rural Communities (SE4RC) project has provided over 100 farmers with renewed access to irrigation through Zimbabwe’s first solar powered mini-grid. In addition to three irrigation schemes, the 99 kW plant powers teacher and nurses homes, a school, health clinic and local businesses.

We are also working with farmers elsewhere in Gwanda district through our Planting for Progress project, combining access to solar-powered irrigation through stand-alone systems with the introduction of traditional drought and pest-resistant seed varieties, as well as agronomic practices that maintain or improve soil fertility and water management. Better storage solutions and business skills training are also part of our holistic approach, and we are encouraging farmers to share those skills with others.

As our Zimbabwe work has shown, solar irrigation can provide the basis of improved livelihoods. Yet take-up across sub-Saharan Africa remains low. There is also plenty of scope for other productive uses of renewable energy in agriculture, for example to localise food processing and cut post-harvest losses. In the coronavirus era, localisation can help reduce the supply chain disruptions caused by the crisis. 

However, costs for sustainable energy solutions can be prohibitive for Africa’s small-scale farmers. Private sector business models such as Pay-As-You-Go can play a role but as we have highlighted in our Poor People’s Energy Outlook, public funding is required to help develop markets and provide support programmes that enable productive use applications to proliferate. Donors, development partners and governments need to recognise the transformative potential of sustainable energy use in agriculture and include agriculture/energy nexus activities in their future priorities, including their immediate COVID-19 recovery programmes.

PV Energy for Water Production: Addressing Water Scarcity Challenges in Arid Coastal & Inland Communities

Africa, South East Asia and Latin America are blessed with sunshine. This blessing becomes a curse when, in addition to the increasing pressure on the water resource caused by the conjunction of population growth and climate change, the scorching sun limits water availability for local inhabitants.

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The energy potential of that sunlight may now be tapped into through solar powered water treatments and desalination systems to alleviate the pressure on water sources, with no access limitation.

OSMOSUN® are sun powered Reverse Osmosis (RO) water treatment systems, developed and patented by Mascara in France to address the very needs of these rural areas. In an optimised pairing of RO and PV technologies to supply decentralised water access points, the water can be produced autonomously and economically in any location where the water access is limited by the contamination or salinity of the available raw water source.

Productive use for several applications and scales

The OSMOSUN® systems have demonstrated their performance and agility in many productive applications:

  • For the supply of water to remote populations in Mozambique, through battery free standalone brackish water treatment systems funded by international donors,
  • For support to post hurricane relief aid for local populations deployed by international emergency programs in Eastern Africa, through the rapid implementation of containerised units,
  • For the reviving of the agricultural sector of African Island States through solar powered brackish water desalination systems enabling the productive irrigation of local crops,
  • For the economic support of fishermen communities in South East Asia where the water production is associated with ice production, financed by a blended model,
  • For the yearlong secured drinking water supply of remote communities in South Africa, with a sector coupled OSMOSUN® unit used for either off-grid operations during power cuts or low demand season, or hybrid operations to cover the peak seasonal demand using grid electricity at night to triple the daily production.

The above mentioned OSMOSUN® units produce between 10,000 litres and 500,000 litres per day, offering a wide range of relevant applications, from small villages to peri-urban areas.

Robust design for sustainable operations

From the project design phase, Mascara’s engineering team focuses on the sustainability of the operation. The robustness of the equipment and the ease of operation to facilitate the local operators’ adoption are our core considerations through every step in the process – water intake, pre-treatment, desalination, post treatment and distribution.

Amongst the main key success factors, OSMOSUN® systems are designed using no batteries when the local environment is not suitable for battery powered system operations. Additionally, the remote monitoring features on all units installed since 2016 ease and create efficient maintenance facilitation in challenging contexts. Finally, the economic model where all operation expenditures are completely covered by the revenues of the water sold makes OSMOSUN® a sustainable and resilient water source for the local populations.

We look forward to helping you supply fresh water to the most remote locations!

Contact: Maxime Therrillion

Solar Mini-grid at the Cicetekelo Farm in Ndola, Zambia

The Cicetekelo Youth Project (CYP) is one of the many projects of the Pope John XXIII Community in Ndola, one of the most important cities in Zambia. The project, whose manger is Mr. Stefano Maradini, from Italy, started in 1997 with the intention to protect vulnerable minors, children and young people who live in situations of hardship and poverty.

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Over the years, a series of self-sustainable production activities have also been launched: an ice cream and pastry shop and a farm, which includes agricultural production, horticulture and livestock.

The farm hosts the main gelato factory of Zambia “Gigibontà” where the grown-up street children produce Italian ice cream for the entire country with a distribution network of over nine gelaterias. The business is profitable and consistently contributes to finance the activity of the community in a virtuous circle that feeds itself.

Ndola has daily blackouts of 15 hours, so the solar plant was crucial to power all the activities that are carried out in the farm. Naturally, this was a threat for the cold rooms in which hundreds of kilos of delicious gelato are stored.

Windkinetic designed, built and started up a 28-kW solar mini-grid to provide the farm with constant, clean and reliable power during the blackout hours avoiding many hours of expensive and polluting diesel generation.

The system consists of a fully containerised plug and play device designed and assembled in Italy at Windkinetic’s premises. The technology is first class, extremely reliable and constantly supervised by Windkinetic’s remote monitoring system from its headquarter in Florence.

After the delivery, Windkinetic technicians made the commissioning and the start up. The system is now fully up and running successfully providing for the energy needs of the farm.

“We have used for this rural electrification project the same technology that we use in rich industrial applications” says Windkinetic CEO, Claudio Pedretti, “we have been able to deliver a first-class reliable system at reasonable costs. That’s the way we intend to electrify Sub-Saharan Africa: high quality Italian technology at an honest price”.

The investment made into the system will be repaid in just a few years.

"We managed to create a farm of about 50 hectares, with the plantation of corn, soybeans, wheat. We also have a flour mill and we breed pigs and chickens. In Ndola there is no light 15 hours a day, therefore the energy requirement is considerable and the water level at the Kariba hydroelectric dam is not enough. That's why the photovoltaic system was fundamental for us", says Stefano Maradini.

Offering Electricity is Good, Using Electricity to Solve Problems is Better

It is 45°C. We are invited to the house of Aminata. A well-dressed smiling woman, holding her 1-year-old in her bag. The local Africa GreenTec technician is finishing his phone call speaking the local language Hausa.

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He uses our satellite telephone today because the rural village Amaloul in Niger does not offer a stable GSM Network. Aminata has prepared a tea for us. The sweet, warm liquid helps to hydrate in the heat. After a very welcoming meal, Aminata tells us what electricity has changed in her life. She tells stories from her neighbours and how the village is developing. After a while, we get to the point - the fridge she bought does not work reliably. The man on the market in the next big city promised it is an excellent machine but now it breaks all the time. Her neighbour has a similar problem, his fridge does not turn on because it uses too much electricity. Africa GreenTec started empowering villages in rural Africa in 2016 with the first Solartainer®- a mobile power plant designed to withstand the harshest conditions. The vision of the founders Torsten and Aida Schreiber is to bring clean electricity to 3 million people by 2030. Today, we operate projects in Mali, Senegal and Niger.

The story of Aminata is one of many that led the Africa GreenTec team to develop a holistic and smart system solution - the ImpactSite. In the Africa GreenTec ImpactSite, components for electricity generation, cooling, water treatment, and communication are intelligently combined to offer new opportunities for the local village residents and productive users to increase their value and productivity. Torsten Schreiber says about the first projects: “We quickly saw the need to add high-quality energy application solutions to our approach to enable productive use and scale up the impact of our work, and apply synergy effects to our business model.”

To tackle the need for cooling facilities (40% of the fruit and vegetable harvest in sub-Saharan Africa goes to waste, 54% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa are farmers), we integrated our Cooltainer® into the ImpactSite - the mobile cold storage solution minimises food waste and enables new distribution channels.

Our experience at 20 sites shows that our focus on productive use enables SME growth, job creation, rise of income levels, and strengthening of social institutions. Besides and through this, our approach of creating sustainable and inclusive ImpactSites has several other positive outcomes on education, health, security and safety. We have created a crowd investing platform, where you can buy “company shares” of Africa Greentec for a minimum investment of EUR 250 to make impact happen and participate in our growth.

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Cooling Technologies Based on Renewable Energies for Senegal

The fishing sector is of great importance for the Senegalese economy. In fact, fish plays a crucial role in domestic nutrition and contributes to the country’s net exports. Storage, processing and transport of fish however poses a challenge for fisheries, since cold chains are not always available, causing a large proportion of the fish caught to perish.

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Consequently, fishers can neither ensure their own food supply, nor sell food for domestic or export, which causes great losses to the Senegalese economy, increases poverty and negatively affects the populations’ diet. The sector is thus in need for new solutions that improve the overall situation.

Within the project STAIRE, which is sponsored by the DAAD with funds from the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, this issue is addressed by advancing the development of technological solutions through academic education. A certificate course for agro-/aquaculture students with a focus on both cooling technology and renewable energy will be developed at the Université Gaston Berger in Saint-Louis in cooperation with the University of Applied Sciences Neu-Ulm (HNU). A practical approach is added to the courses with the help of the industry partners Green Energy, Energiekonzepte Schiffer and KTI-Plersch.

KTI-Plersch will specifically contribute with its expertise in cooling technologies for fisheries. Ice is generally a proven storage medium to retain cooling energy and thus the ideal solution to keep fish fresh both off- and on-shore. Accordingly, flake ice plants, mobile ice storages and ice handling equipment are likely to meet the needs of the industry by providing fishers with access to ice. Mobile cold stores in Senegalese harbours and local fish markets will allow access to storage space under reasonable conditions and are easy to install. Containerised blast freezers furthermore enable fish to be stored by freezing it immediately after the catch. Graduates of the certificate course are ultimately able to install different systems according to local demand and power those with renewable energy. The availability of such facilities for fish and seafood helps to strengthen the cold chain by extending shelf life. The knowledge acquired by graduates will therefore contribute to the development of a sustainable fishing industry in Senegal including access to both local and international markets.

  • Project-related questions (we are specifically looking for industry contacts in Senegal): Inken Hoeck
  • Technology-related questions: Michael Walleter

SelfChill: Solar Cooling Solutions for Agricultural Products

The German solar technology provider Phaesun GmbH in cooperation with Solar Cooling Engineering UG has developed the SelfChill Concept, an innovative technology based on solar energy for cooling agricultural products such as milk, fish, fruit and seeds.

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The SelfChill concept focuses on the use of key components for scalable solar cooling solutions. A kit consisting of a solar system and a cooling unit (SelfChill® Solar Cooling Unit) forms the core component. It produces ice from water that is stored in an ice reservoir that compensates fluctuations in solar energy or cooling capacity. With a conventional insulated box, one SelfChill Unit offers a cooling capacity comparable to a conventional solar refrigerator. By combining more SelfChill Units, cooling systems can be created in different sizes for different applications (icemakers, milk tanks, cold rooms etc.)

The concept also allows delivery in individual components and use of local material, so that transport volume and costs are kept low and final assembly can be carried out on site.

Phaesun and Solar Cooling Engineering offer the SelfChill components and complete systems, furthermore they provide training material and intense customer support to find the perfectly fitting cooling solutions for every application.

In July 2020, Phaesun and Solar Cooling Engineering have started the project “PV Cool Kenya” supported by DEG to implement the SelfChill concept in Kenya. Studies show that a lot of small-scale farmers bring most of their products to agricultural cooperatives or collection points for resale. Larger scale food processors or wholesalers do not collect milk, meat, fish, vegetables and fruit every day, but every 2-4 days. The cooperatives and collection points often suffer from insufficient cooling opportunities, thus the product quality is often weak, waste is high and the income of the small-scale farmers is low. The project “PV Cool Kenya” shall demonstrate that solar cooling solutions can result in higher income for the target groups.

Three system configurations based on the SelfChill Concept will be installed for demonstration at farmers cooperatives within the project: (a) a milk tank (500 l) to cool down milk to 4°C, (b) a small storage container (20 m³) for cooling fruit and vegetables to 10-15°C and (c) an advanced icemaker producing up to 100 kg ice daily for cooling fish.

In addition, technical training courses on system design and installation of the SelfChill systems will be offered in May 2021 in Kenya together with Strathmore University Nairobi.

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Decarbonising the Telecoms Sector with Hybrid Renewables

The telecoms industry is in the middle of a global green transition. With more than 1.5 million towers in bad or off-grid locations, telecom tower operators are turning to hybrid renewable energy as the most cost-effective, efficient and reliable solution to power the industry.

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With uptime requirements of over 99%, the power supply to remote telecom towers are a significant expense for telecom or tower operators which require electricity supply, and previously diesel generation was one of the only reliable option.

But the cost can be prohibitive, factoring in transport, maintenance and operations, coupled with the risk of equipment and fuel theft. There are intangible expenses too, including environmental and health hazards from harmful diesel generation.

But utilising wind energy, solar PV and battery storage, hybrid renewables is now the primary choice for a resilient, reliable and green energy supply to off-grid telecom towers.

The combined energy sources are more effective at meeting the demand requirements of critical infrastructure such as telecom towers which require energy 24-hours a day than a single renewable solution alone.

Wind energy is available 24 hours a day, whilst solar PV has up to a 12-hour generation cycle, depending on the location. The combination of both resources is able to produce a more consistent supply of electricity, with the strengths of each resource balancing the system.  As production from one resource dwindles, daily or seasonally, the other compensates for a greater consistency of energy production.

The solutions are agile and flexible in both sizing and space availability as they can be installed on-tower, or off-tower depending on specific site requirements. With remote monitoring and very little maintenance required, the system is highly efficient and enables tower operators to take back control of their operating costs.

With more than 4,000 installations across all seven continents, Ryse Energy is the global leader in off-grid hybrid renewables, providing major players such as Vodafone, Telefonica, MTN and others green energy systems to drastically reduce diesel dependency, saving in some circumstances over 75%, whilst reducing the carbon footprint and boosting sustainability credentials.

This makes the choice to implement off-grid hybrid renewables a simple one when the cost reductions are so staggering. Making a green decision, an economical decision.

For more information, please visit:


  • Roundtable on GET.invest Support Instruments for the DRE Sector (Virtual, 22 Jul 2020)

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    The roundtable discussion attracted 240 participants. With discussants from private sector DRE companies, as well as from the GET.invest Finance Catalyst, the webinar featured feedback from ARE Members on support instruments needed, especially in the face of COVID-19.

  • Electrifying Rural Health Facilities: Ongoing Initiatives & Innovative DRE Solutions (Webinar, 18 Jun 2020)

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    With 485 participants and speakers from around the world, the ARE webinar focused on sharing evidence and lessons learnt on the ability of DRE to fast-track delivery of sustainable and reliable power for rural health facilities in emerging markets.

  • Energy Access COVID-19 Relief Summit (Virtual, 15-16 Jul 2020)

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     Nearly 1,600 energy access representatives assessed the pandemic’s impact on businesses and consumers, stressing the sector’s role in (re)building sustainable, resilient communities and economies at the Energy Access COVID-19 Relief Summit.

    The two-day summit was organised by ARE and GOGLA with support from GET.invest and in partnership with AMDA, ESMAP, GDC, SEforALL and the Clean Cooking Alliance. Participants met in 600 online matchmaking meetings, organised by GET.invest, a programme supported by the European Union, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Austria.

    While the pandemic is reversing decades of progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, the energy access sector stands ready to contribute to a lasting recovery for communities and economies. By improving access to reliable electricity, modern appliances and clean cooking solutions, the sector is helping to power health clinics, reduce air pollution, create and retain jobs, and support livelihoods. With its proven track record of improving the lives of at least 470 million people, the energy access sector has a key role to play in ensuring economic security and bolstering communities’ resilience during the ongoing pandemic and future crises. The current crisis is also a real chance to transition into a future where a resilient and diverse energy sector, with a healthy mix of international and domestic actors including SMEs as well as financiers, delivers clean and affordable energy to domestic, social and productive users.

    The sector can, however, only live up to this essential role if businesses and their consumers receive the support they need right now. This includes grant and debt funding for relief and recovery, as well as direct or indirect support to consumers. Indeed, the summit featured several relief and recovery mechanisms spearheaded by committed donors and investors. However, it is evident that more is needed, particularly for local, smaller and medium-sized businesses serving last-mile customers. These companies have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and, due to their size and funding requirements, may be unable to access other relief mechanisms.

    Leading industry representatives thus continue to look for new partnerships with donors, investors and governments to reduce the plight of businesses and consumers. Only if the sector receives this support will it be in a strong position to help build back better.

  • Funding & Fast-Tracking Health Facility Electrification in Sub-Saharan Africa (Virtual, 28 Jul 2020)

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    The webinar, which brought together 300 participants, focused on how funding for projects to electrify rural health facilities can be structured and fast-tracked. On the same occasion, the “Best practices for electrifying rural health facilities with decentralised renewables” publication was launched featuring case studies from 16 ARE Members.

  • 13th Microgrid Global Innovation Forum (Virtual, 7-11 Sep 2020)

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    This conference brings together thought leaders, energy executives, and project managers from around the world for focused networking and information sharing concerning the design, implementation and operation of hybrid energy, renewables-centric microgrids. The emphasis is on maximising the effective use of sustainable distributed energy resources, refining the business model for a range of microgrid deployments, and sharing real-world case studies of noteworthy grid-tied, off-grid, island, and remote systems. 

    ARE is pleased to be an official Association Partner for this event.

    Due to the coronovirus situation, the event this year will be 100% online, and registration is free. 

  • OFF-GRID Expo + Conference (Augsburg, 3-4 Dec 2020)

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    ARE is pleased to be the conference partner of OFF-GRID Expo + Conference.

    Preparations for the OFF-GRID Expo + Conference are in full swing. The conference programme is already being fine-tuned, further programme items such as the Hands-On Off-Grid Workshop or the Speed Dating are being prepared and the organisers are working on the implementation of the safety precautions in line with the COVID-19 requirements. All lights are green to offer the off-grid community a live experience and many personal contacts in December.

    Corona-Safety-Special: Double stand space for exhibitors

    The health of all participants and employees has the highest priority for the OFF-GRID Expo + Conference 2020. In order to be able to keep the given 1.50 m distance on the stand, the organisers will double the booked stand space for all exhibitors of the OEC 2020 free of charge!

    Interested in booking a stand? ARE Members get special discounts! 

    Contact: Ling Ng

  • ARE: Best Practices for Electrifying Rural Health Care Facilities with Decentralised Renewables

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    Electricity is a prerequisite to enable health services for every health care facility around the globe. While the struggle of rural communities to access quality health services has long been a critical issue, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the essential role that electricity plays in rural health care facilities.

    Against this emergency background, Decentralised Renewable Energy (DRE) solutions offer the cleanest, cheapest and smartest solution to electrify rural health care facilities in most cases. DRE is not just an essential pillar to empower health care facilities and vulnerable citizens in their fight against COVID-19, but also a promising catalyst to power tomorrow’s local economies and speed up post-disease socio-economic recovery.

    By showcasing 16 case studies from ARE Members, as well as providing core recommendations for international funding partners, philanthropies and governments building on those, this publication aims to:

    • Demonstrate the ability of DRE solutions to quickly deliver sustainable, reliable power to rural health care facilities, helping such projects to attract more investment;
    • Serve as inspiration for new DRE projects and support vulnerable communities in their fight against and subsequent recovery to the global health crisis.

    The publication was published by ARE with the support of GET.invest

  • EnDev: COVID-19 Energy Access Industry Barometer – Key Findings

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    The results of the survey present a picture from 613 companies across 44 countries, that provide energy access through mini-grids, clean cooking solutions, household solar products and appliances. Actual live market data regarding e.g. demand, turnover, and sales as well as voices from affected companies will give investors, governments, and donors the insights they need to respond to the crisis and develop recovery strategies.

    From the results, three main findings can be derived:

    1. The energy access sector is in crisis: Progress towards SDG7 and related SDGs at severe risk
    2. Many businesses fear for their survival, large number of jobs at risk – Livelihoods are endangered, economic and social crisis coincide
    3. Access to finance is key – sector needs special vehicles: Particularly short-term grant relief – also new long-term equity/debt & concessional loans
  • SEforALL: Chilling Prospects: Tracking Sustainable Cooling for All 2020

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    The Chilling Prospects series tracks immediate vulnerability to a lack of access to cooling, identifying populations at risk whose lack of access threatens their immediate health and safety. It models risk on the basis of a spectrum of access to cooling that crosses human safety and comfort, food and nutrition security and agriculture, and health services for four populations: the rural poor, the urban poor, the lower-middle income and the middle income.  

    The COVID-19 pandemic that has dominated headlines since early 2020 has reshaped economic systems, changed human behaviour across the globe and demanded that the world rethink its response to climate change. Less widely appreciated are the impacts the pandemic has had on the developing world, how COVID-19 amplified other risks, and the opportunity to recover better with sustainable energy for all. From finding social distance when temperatures rise to ensure an affordable nutritious diet despite the economic downturn, access to cooling supports human needs highlighted by the pandemic. But perhaps most significant is the rapid expansion of the medical cold chain that may be necessary to deliver a vaccine. Most temperature-sensitive vaccines, such as influenza vaccines, require cold storage between 2°C and 8°C, but close to half of the vaccine candidates currently in phase 1 or later trials will require storage in a -80°C cold chain, which would require building a new cold chain for low-income countries.

  • MGP: State of the Global Mini-grids Market Report 2020

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    The report aims to raise awareness about mini-grids, mobilising investments in the mini-grid sector and serving as a benchmark to measure progress in the sector for decision-makers. It provides the latest updates on the global mini-grids market and highlights key trends in the industry that, together, can stand as the definitive source of information for stakeholders.  

    The insights found in the report were developed through literature reviews, quantitative analysis and, importantly, interviews with 68 organisations to collect information and data from mini-grid developers, financiers, donor agencies, research institutes, non-profit organisations and technology vendors. Therefore, this report represents an important cross-institutional collaboration to provide a detailed look at the state of the mini-grids sector.

    The authors also conducted case studies of six countries - Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, India (Bihar), the Philippines and Indonesia.

  • AMDA: Benchmarking Africa’s Minigrids

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    The first edition of AMDA’s annual Benchmarking Africa’s Minigrids report measures industry performance through a comprehensive dataset across 12 countries and 28 companies, encompassing market leaders and newcomers. The report confirms the essential role of mini-grids in ensuring delivery of affordable, clean and reliable electricity to all Africans, and spotlighted both barriers to accelerated growth and ways to overcome them.

    The report, produced together with Economic Consulting Associates (ECA) and Odyssey Energy Solutions, covers a 10-year period and focuses on important metrics such as installed and operating costs, financing, quality of service and regulatory approval times. It provides a previously absent methodology and transparency to track the fast-evolving minigrid sector.

    Key findings include:

    • Mini-grids outperform utilities on affordability
    • Installed costs have dropped more than 60% since 2015
    • Mini-grids offer significantly better service than the central grid
    • Regulations are stunting mini-grid sector growth
    • Revenues per customer remain very low
    • Public funding is key to unlocking private capital

Please note that views expressed in the Co-Editorial, the In Focus section and the Special Feature of the newsletter, are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect ARE’s opinion.

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