Empowering Youth as the Energy Gamechangers of Tomorrow

Marcus Wiemann, Executive Director, ARE

Capacity Building for Sustainable Energy Markets

Malte Felshart, Team Member, Energising Development (EnDev)

The work of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) worldwide has capacity building at its core. Our flagship programme in the standalone sector is Energising Development (EnDev), an energy access partnership currently financed by six donor countries (the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, United Kingdom, Switzerland and Sweden) and coordinated in close collaboration with the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).

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The role of EnDev is to promote sustainable access to modern energy services that meet the needs of the poor - long lasting, affordable, and appreciated by users. The blueprint for EnDev’s delivery model is a functioning market system, in which relevant actors work together to sustainably deliver adequate energy access products to our target group, the rural poor. A functioning market system requires a wide range of capacities and consequently a diversity of training efforts are carried out. Out of the 25 countries in which EnDev is active, two examples can illustrate the range of activities in the standalone sector.

In Ethiopia, the market for standalone products has developed over the last years yet slower than in other East African countries. In Ethiopia, EnDev focuses on building the capacity of key stakeholders, particularly distributors and end-users. They are trained in assessing quality of components and devices, increasing installation quality and maintenance. For the latter, manuals on basic maintenance measures were prepared in local languages, to ensure that the effect of training can persist. Another element to increase the sustainability of capacity transfer are training of trainer programs. In Ethiopia, these are carried out to multiply the necessary skills particularly in rural and remote areas.

In Benin, nearly all companies active in the standalone sector are based in the capital city Cotonou. To increase the technical skillset in rural areas, EnDev Benin has initiated activities to strengthen the solar energy capacities of electricians in partnership with another GIZ project, the Programme de Formation Professionnelle en Energies Renouvelables au Bénin (PFPERB/UWZ). Furthermore, sale promotion campaigns are carried out in municipalities with little exposure to standalone products. These are important, as many potential end-users know very little about standalone products and their characteristics. Promotional campaigns are prepared and carried out in collaboration with partner companies. A total of 42 sites across 28 municipalities have been covered in cooperation with 11 partner enterprises so far. This has built up a basic level of understanding on different products and where to obtain them.

The capacity needs in and between countries differ substantially and so do the training efforts of EnDev and GIZ projects. Whether first exposure through sales campaigns and initial technical trainings or advanced quality assessment and maintenance, capacity development packages are tailored to the needs of local stakeholders and status of the market. As a rule of thumb, we see that the further advanced a market is, the less we have to contribute to sustainably deliver access, which is a part of the reason why capacity development is at the core of our activities. Collaboration with all actors in the standalone market environment – from end-users over government authorities to companies and industry associations such as ARE – is important for capacity development and pivotal to reaching sustainable markets.


Developing Local Skills in Energy-Related Fields at Schneider Electric

Today, more than 1.06 billion people — almost 1 of every 5 persons on the planet — don’t have access to energy. As the global specialist of energy management automation, we want everyone on our planet to have access to reliable, safe, efficient, and sustainable energy.

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Schneider Electric’s commitment is reflected in its Access to Energy Program which develops energy access solutions addressing the needs of local populations, invests in startups with innovative access to energy products, trains people from underprivileged backgrounds and supports entrepreneurship in energy related fields.

We are convinced that the best investment is the development of human skills. In this regard, we are actively working with more than 150 partners such as NGOs and local authorities, to provide training in the fields of electricity, automation, energy management and renewable energy.

More specifically, we have developed 3 types of training programs based on theory and hands-on practical work:

  • Short-term training (4-6 months) for people from underprivileged background and without formal vocational education;
  • Long-term courses (1-3 years) integrated with existing diploma programs in host countries. As part of these programs, we are developing three-way partnerships to create Centres of Excellence in developing countries. For example, the creation of the F’SASEC Centre of Excellence in South Africa involved the provision of an expert by the French Ministry of Education, and the provision of premises and training – supervisory personnel by the Vaal University of Technology. On our side, we share our industrial and commercial know-how and we co-finance the technical platform and equipment.
  • Training of trainers to help them ensure effective transmission of quality, up-to-date know-how finely tuned to the characteristics of today’s energy markets in the host country.

Finally, we have developed didactic solutions composed of curriculum, didactic benches and laboratories to support the quality delivery of the training programs above.

Replicating our initiatives thanks to local and global partners, more than 130,000 people from underprivileged backgrounds and 5,500 trainers have been trained since 2009. Moreover, 1,000 entrepreneurs have been supported. We also rely on our employees, working at our local subsidiaries or in volunteer missions, to lead our projects and roll out our initiatives. In the coming years, their work will be guided by three key focuses: entrepreneurship, support for women and training of trainers.

Our aim: to train 1 million people, 10,000 trainers and support 10,000 of entrepreneurs by 2025! Want to play a part?


Solar Power Guarantees Urgently Required Electricity in Syrian Hospitals

SOLAR23 delivered 127 kWp solar system to Bab Al-Hawa Hospital in Syria

Funded by Syria Relief and partners, Bab Al Hawa Hospital (BHH) is the largest and busiest hospital in northern Syria. The hospital treats about 3,500 patients a month, including emergency treatment and elective work.

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All of the treatments obviously depend on continuous electricity. In the past diesel and power cuts have led to life threatening situations. To ensure continuous electricity 24/7 a photovoltaic system was planned.

The pilot project at the Bab Al-Hawa Hospital is the first of its kind in Syria and was made possible by efforts of several entities and individuals who chose anonymity. Due to the urgency and the high importance of the project, the project team decided to solely assign this contract to a company that has a proven track record of similar reference projects: A home run for the seasoned photovoltaic expert SOLAR23, who could additionally score due to its Africa expertise, staff skills and financial stability.

While system design and configuration had already been specified, it was the task and challenge of SOLAR23 to create a package according to the local building & infrastructure, in line with the tender configuration and specification, comprising matching components and high-quality products “made in Germany” by renowned companies of the solar industry -  and should still offer the truly convincing price/performance ratio, which SOLAR23 is known for.

The project is expected to save over 7,000 liters of diesel per month on average. This amounts to approximately 20-30% of the monthly energy cost of the hospital. The system can fully power the ICU, operating rooms and emergency departments during diesel outages.

SOLAR23 was also responsible for technical planning, delivery and training of local staff and the system conforms to the highest international standards.

We are very happy that we are part of this vital pilot project, that now gives the hospital the certainty to have continuous, steady power, that is so desperately needed – especially i.e. in the intensive care units and for the baby incubators for new born babies”, underlines Jochen Rühle, Technical Director at SOLAR23.

We believe that this type of projects brings hope. Solar energy is a democratizing force, that has the capacity to empower institutions and communities in very positive ways.  Syria is in one of the best regions globally to harvest solar energy, and needs to be leveraged. The goal now is to empower the health system by scaling the solar project to at least five other critical hospitals. Our dream is to see every medical facility in Syria running on clean, sustainable energy,” said Tarek Makdissi, Project Director- UOSSM Syria Solar Initiative.


Investing in Local Capacity: A Foundational Element of Sustainable Renewable Energy Deployment

Last month in Nicaragua, 33 women and men from 17 rural communities around the country gathered in Managua to participate in hands-on solar trainings and learn about best practices in off-grid solar system use and maintenance at GRID Alternatives’ 7th Annual Solar Conference.

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The conference brings together leaders from communities where GRID has done electrification work to learn from experts and each other and share how they use their off-grid solar systems to generate income and improve lives. For some, it’s the only time during the year they leave their immediate communities.

Investing in local capacity is a foundational element of GRID’s model for sustainable renewable energy deployment internationally. Where community members are trained and invested in their energy systems, those systems will serve the community for the long-term.

GRID Alternatives, the largest non-profit solar installer in the United States, launched its International Program in 2012 by merging with Nicaragua-based Power to the People. Since then it has expanded to serve communities in Nepal and most recently Mexico. Of the 141 systems, GRID has installed to-date, 135 are still up and running, with a 95% up time recorded in 2016. The high-level engagement of the communities GRID works in has been the key to this success.

Before a project begins, GRID works with local communities, including community members, local leaders and other NGOs, to identify energy needs and available resources and develop solutions. Projects range from single off-grid PV systems on a community building like a school or health clinic, to solar-powered drip irrigation systems for farmers, to a micro-grid to serve an entire village.

Then comes the training. Participating community members receive training before, during, and after a project, both in-person and via printed resources. The printed resources are written in the local language, use images that reflect local residents, and include visuals so people with low literacy rates can understand them. Trainings focus on system safety, usage and maintenance, and for those interested, installation. GRID works with people of all ages and education levels, and actively encourages gender balance to ensure projects are community-centric and informed by many voices. In Nicaragua, community members are also invited to the annual conference, with transportation and childcare provided to facilitate participation.

GRID also uses its projects as a “classroom in the field” for both international participants and local students and professionals interested in renewable energy careers, helping them learn about sustainable development and energy access solutions, and develop cross-cultural competency.

Renewable energy projects in off-grid communities are a growing philanthropic trend. For these investments to achieve their promise and provide long-term community benefits, they must have the participation of an informed and engaged community.


Increasing the Sustainability of Renewable Energy Technical Training

High quality technical training for Renewable Energies (RE) technicians (in training institutes, technical colleges or polytechnics) is a crucial precondition for successful sector development. Incorrect installations are not only dangerous but can also discredit a technology in a country.

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Though RE has increased dramatically over the last 10-15 years, training of technicians within accredited training centres has not kept pace with the industry requirements. Only in a few countries specific RE training is already included in the training framework.

In April 2017, the IEA PVPS (International Energy Agency’s Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme) Task 9 and the International Solar Energy Society (ISES) jointly published a “Guideline to Introducing Quality Renewable Energy (RE) Technician Training Programs”. It addresses the RE industry, multi-lateral and bi-lateral donors and government ministries / departments that want to introduce quality training programs for technicians.

The guide helps to introduce RE courses into an existing quality training framework or, if one does not exist, to establish a process whereby the training being provided is following quality procedures.

Components of a Quality Training Framework

A “National Quality Training Frameworks” is achieved through established committees comprising stakeholders from industry, training institutes and at times government who identify and document the required knowledge and skills. Training institutes become accredited via an auditing process undertaken by a recognised body, often a (semi-) government entity based on a set of quality management standards. The publication explains about quality training frameworks, presents key elements included in a quality management standard which an approved training centre should be audited against.

Introduction of quality RE training and what if there is no country Quality Training Framework?

The document describes required steps like a needs and gap analysis, introduction of training courses while considering e.g. training formats and material as well as training of trainers. It discusses the need for an international body for accreditation and approval of RE training centres and summarises work undertaken by a body established in 1996, the Institute for Sustainable Power.

Existing Quality training and technician’s certification / accreditation schemes

The publication provides illustrative examples of the introduction of quality RE training programs including West Africa (ECREEE), France, India, Kenya, Malaysia, the Pacific region, South Africa, Singapore, and UK.

The guide concludes with the recommendation that the Global RE Industry should consider the introduction of an international framework to provide a mechanism for RE training programs to be accredited by a third party.

In addition to the above described guideline, Task 9 also published “A user guide to simple monitoring and sustainable operation of PV-diesel hybrid systems.”


Supporting Applied Entrepreneurship: Lessons Learned from a Development Project in Rural Ethiopia

The vast majority of the Ethiopian population (83.2% as of 2010) lives in rural areas, where modern energy services are rarely available. Only 4.8% of the rural population have access to electrical energy. While many nations in sub-Saharan Africa face similar challenges, Ethiopia ranks particularly low in terms of energy progress, last out of 80 per the IEA’s 2012 Energy Development Index (EDI), with an EDI of 0.04.

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Integrating energy access for the rural poor into national development strategies would explicitly recognise the crucial role of energy in poverty reduction by productive use and support public and private actors’ efforts accordingly by fostering entrepreneurship. Most non-state actors working on energy currently operate in a fragmented way, following their own objectives and policies. Yet research suggests that rural energy access projects will be most effective when they are demand-driven, not donor-driven.

The Government of Ethiopia generally supports the development of SMEs. A competitive SME sector stimulates private-sector led growth and contributes to poverty alleviation by providing employment and income generation opportunities to the working poor. SMEs are also a primary distribution system for basic goods and services for the majority of the population. In rural areas, however, very few small enterprises tend to graduate into medium enterprises. One of the most important constraints for SME development is the lack of access to sufficient and reliable electricity in rural areas. As a result, the Government of Ethiopia promotes decentralised systems based on renewable energy resources – solar, wind, biomass and small-scale hydroelectric power – for rural electrification.

Most projects provide reliable and cost-effective electricity, usually about 20%-25% fail due to substandard equipment, inadequate after-sales services and poor monitoring and maintenance. Generally, the lack of skills generally constitutes a major problem for people in rural areas, because of lacking employment opportunities due to their limited employability or because they lack basic competencies necessary for self-employment or founding new SMEs. Having said that, there is potential in defining the appropriate decentralised electrification technology as well in training users and communities by improving the understanding of operating and maintaining the energy systems. In the field of education, a special focus is placed on sector and regional value chains, through supporting private sector initiatives and actors identifying regional potentials of production, the development of new value chains and the realisation of investments of private businesses.

From a broader perspective, Ethiopia can be regarded as sweet spot to develop business models to foster entrepreneurship: First, the effectiveness of governmental and institutions can be regarded as highly developed. In addition, the country showed double-digit GDP growth rates in the previous years. The GDP/head of roughly 500 USD, however, is remarkably poor in a global context. Going along with that 85% of Ethiopians live in rural areas in impoverished conditions. Further, only 15% of Ethiopians have access to a reliable power source, usually from the electric grid in urban areas. However, this has not stopped technology from moving into rural areas. Cellular phone purchases, in addition to portable lamps, radios and televisions, and even hair care tools, continue to slowly rise despite limited access to power sources. Thus, the unique combination of a politically stable environment and a large potential for decentralised electrification produces a rare opportunity for creating business models.

Read the full report here




Sharing Best Practices to Serve the Last Mile

Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) Solar Home Systems provide a scalable way to meet the energy needs of off-grid households, but distributors face the challenges of scaling their business in the last mile. Firstly, this includes the need for a sales and distribution network that can actually reach the rural communities who would benefit from such products.

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Secondly, a crucial aspect of PAYG is that it requires a lasting relationship with customers who are paying the cost of their systems over time. Retaining these customers for the full length of this lease is vital, and this necessitates an aftersales support network that can meet their needs in the long term. For an entrepreneur or business that is new to this field, developing these capabilities is challenging.

Solaris Offgrid provides white branded modular hardware and a PAYG platform including a software app to partners who are building their own distribution operation. We run our own last-mile operations in Africa with Solaris Tanzania, and use the learnings to provide partners with strategic and technical expertise through our business support programme.

Each partner is offered training in Tanzania where they can experience the operations and gain a benchmark of efficient practices. During the week, they get their hands dirty in the field, splitting their time between each area of the operations. They learn about issues such as providing high quality customer service and building local sales networks through hands-on interaction: joining the team in the field. The management team also share best practice on reaching strategic targets. A partner who recently went through this training said the following: “I genuinely found everything helpful. The team was super open and transparent, and it was obvious that they wanted us to understand every single aspect of the business”.

The support doesn’t end after a week; a dedicated team provide partners with ongoing resources. This includes access to tools and studies that are developed in the field, as well as a platform to discuss specific topics in more detail. One example is the decision many partners face of relying entirely on a mobile money payment system, or giving their customers the convenience of using cash. Solaris Offgrid addressed this topic in a recent study. We also offer onsite visits to the partner’s operations to provide fully personalised support. Through our partnership with Trine, in these visits we can carry out the due diligence for a crowdfunding campaign, helping our partners access the capital that is so vital in the early stages.

If you’re interested in joining us on this journey, contact advisory@solarisoffgrid.com



PayAsYouGo – Ready to Take Off Globally!

Recent years have seen the rise of a new industry centred on the provision of energy solutions to households and small businesses. The off-grid Solar Home System sector has successfully combined flexible asset backed financing (PayAsYouGo - PAYG), falling prices for solar panels and energy storage solutions with the rise of mobile money infrastructure – especially in rural East Africa.

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Companies like Mobisol, M-Kopa, Offgrid-Electric and Bbox have successfully delivered energy solutions to more than a million households, and small businesses providing a very affordable answer to the slow speed of grid extension and mini-grids build up in rural areas.

This development is now being replicated in other regions of the world. New players are entering markets in West Africa, South East Asia and Latin America starting to distribute PAYG enabled off-grid energy solutions. One of the biggest challenges of these players is the higher complexity of a PAYG enabled business compared to a classical distribution business. This is especially true when operating in rural, often remote, areas of the world.

The key to answer these challenges is complexity reduction in the last mile, which can be mainly achieved through digitisation of data and critical business processes.

Having worked on digital in-house solutions in precisely this business environment for the past six years, the German based company Mobisol has now decided to offer its software solutions to third parties to support their growth by providing best practices and well tested processes built into an innovative software suite – the SolarHub.

The SolarHub software suite does not only allow for PAYG services; it is also an enabler to manage entire business setups of PAYG providers. SolarHub digitally supports customer relationship management, loan portfolio assessment and monitoring, last mile logistics – and compliments all relevant PAYG related business models. Customised mobile applications meet the specific challenges of sales and maintenance infrastructure in remote areas, while a transparent KPI reporting interface allows a real-time reaction to business-critical developments and a low-overhead reporting to financial investors.

The combination of a best-in-class, yet very affordable, software solution with a wide range of supported hardware will enable distributors to concentrate on their core business and flatten the learning curve towards a robust and sustainable scale up. SolarHub provides a sophisticated central tool for managing and servicing a decentralized electrification solution, allowing a rapid scaling - as it has only been seen so far in the mobile phone and mobile money sectors.

This comprehensive software support will prominently contribute to the rapid growth of the off-grid PAYG sector by providing a powerful answer to the challenges posed by the existing energy poverty still found in large parts of the world.



How Renewable Energy is Replacing Alternate Lightning

A fuel derived by crude oil with evaporating properties is currently prevailing in more households than it should. Kerosene, possessing the ability to poison respiratory systems, most commonly in infants, has shown its capabilities worldwide.

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Especially in countries like Zambia where it was estimated that 80,000 children ingested kerosene per year and 40,000 children developed chemical pneumonia from drinking it. Adding to this, 30% of all reported burns in Nigeria are purely due to kerosene. Women and children that are surrounded by kerosene have involuntarily breathed in large amounts; equivalent to smoking 2 packs of cigarettes.

Narrowing it down to Pakistan where an estimated 70 million people are not connected to the grid, kerosene is one of the primary sources of lighting after the sunsets. Even though the rural households fully understand the negative side effects to their health, for lack of alternatives they are forced to use kerosene for lighting. A few of negative health effects are listed below:

  • 5% of under 15 children are injured every year by burn.
  • Respiratory problems developing in children under 5 and mothers
  • Air pollution caused by Kerosene is killing children before reaching the age of 5.

With such alarming statistics, why do people still keep using kerosene as a source of alternate lighting? Mainly due to the fact that last mile distribution is a challenge and in some cases the kerosene mafia and kerosene subsidies in some countries causes a roadblock for alternatives.

There is a better, more reliable and safer option than kerosene. In particular, pico-solar products, such as small portable solar lights, have gained increased policy attention and international funding. Such products have low up-front costs, need little maintenance, and do not pose the management problems typically associated with national grids or even mini-grids. Solar photovoltaic charged products are hence seen as a possible solution to address both energy poverty and energy sustainability in the near future.

The jump from kerosene to pico has shown to have great benefits for the users and it is most likely that they climb the energy ladder to a Solar Home System (SHS). The graduation from pico to SHS is enormous, beneficiaries often feel a development inclusion as they have added advantages like mobile phone charging, televisions, stepping out of the dark gloomy homely environment prior to solar energy. SHS are more acceptable and convenient for a larger family as solar lanterns only provide minimum access to energy. Unlike SHS, pico solar products cannot power radios, TVs, fridges, or other appliances people may aspire to own as they become wealthier.   

The aim is to electrify rural areas through solar powered panels. The advantages to using this are numerous, a study conducted reports:

  • 75% increase in study time
  • 25% increase in household income
  • 84% feel there is a positive change in their home’s air quality
  • 94% claim they now lead safer and brighter lives.

Using a decentralised energy solution rather a harmful gas will not only save lives but it will increase the standard of living for most people and help them perform tasks for the betterment of their future, this initiates a winsome ripple effect for all.



  • ARE Becomes Proud Partner of SEforALL

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    Based on previous successful collaboration SEforALL and ARE have agreed to step up their commitment by entering into an official 3-year Partnership agreement.

    During this period, SEforALL and ARE will collaborate through specifically tailored interventions which lie on the critical path as identified by the Global Tracking Framework (2017) to enhance global efforts to promote a level-playing field for decentralised clean energy technology and business solutions, reflecting the common vision that everyone should have access to affordable, secure and clean energy by 2030.

    Furthermore, this agreement expresses the intention of the Parties to enable collaboration amongst each other’s partners, and where appropriate, around topics relating to energy access such as expanding off-grid power activities in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

    The 4th ARE Energy Access Investment Forum in Sicily on 13-15 March 2018 has been identified as a key deliverable to enhance global efforts to promote decentralised clean energy technology and business solutions.

    ARE President, Ernesto Macias: “One of the steps to scaling up energy access is to strengthen coordination amongst major institutions as we saw in our Energy Access Investment Forum in Lisbon this year. SEforALL is an important partner for us and becoming a Proud Partner of SEforALL will help the industry and institutions to work closer together to provide the much needed energy access to developing countries.”

  • Supporting the Deployment of Residential PV Systems in the Sub-Saharan Africa Region with the IRENA Project Navigator

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    Renewable energy is a key element of the global response to climate change, and a central piece of the sustainable development agenda. Cost-effective solutions such as small-scale solar PV systems associated with innovative business models can empower energy consumers to tackle the issue of energy access as more than 600 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa still lack access to basic energy services. To match a growing regional demand (expected to soar by more than two-third by 2030), small-scale PV systems cost as little as USD 56 per year and can be deployed to hundreds of thousands of off-grid households in remote and rural locations where electrification by the grid is not viable.

    However, home owners and solar energy entrepreneurs still face challenges that can undermine the success of a residential PV project with unresolved issues ranging from resource evaluation, technology selection, technical design, rooftop integration, project economics modelling to project proposal preparation. In addition, issues such as intermittency and variability need to be properly managed when it comes to meeting specific electricity demand patterns.

    With adequate project development practices, small-scale PV systems represent an ideal solution to provide affordable and clean energy for residential applications. In this context, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has expanded the Project Navigator, its online project facilitation platform to assist in the development of bankable residential PV projects. The recent addition enables project developers to avoid pitfalls that can jeopardise project success through practical tools, models, templates and case studies.

    Putting best practices into action, IRENA organises project development training workshops and webinars based on the IRENA Project Navigator for the Sub-Saharan region. During the summer of 2017, a series of workshops in West Africa supported 60 project developers to apply best practices for small-scale PV project development and helped them address the challenges of affordable and clean energy in their respective countries.

    IRENA will hold this year additional training workshops in West and Southern Africa aiming at further supporting renewable energy entrepreneurship in the region.

    Together with l'Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), IRENA is organizing on Oct. 25 at 2pm GMT a Project Navigator training webinar (in French) on the development of bankable mini-grids projects in West Africa. Interested participants can register for free

    Find out more about the Project Navigator: www.irena.org/navigator

  • AEEP Energy Access Workstream Training (Lusaka, 4-5 September 2017)

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    ARE, together with its Partners in the AEEP Energy Access Work Stream, organised a successful 1.5 day training for African Rural Electrification Agencies (REA), during the CLUB ER Annual Meeting.

    The 50+ participants included the top leadership of most African REAs from Mali to Madagascar, as well as ARE Members Practical Action, ACRA and Energy Diverse Integrations. One of the highlights was the presentation of a tariff calculation toolbox by EUEI PDF. [Agenda]

    Finally, the Young Leaders yielded a Call for Action to unlock Africa’s youth potential and to advance the role of REAs.

  • 5th Microgrid Global Innovation Forum (Barcelona, 5-6 September 2017)

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    The Forum brought together 110+ international industry executives, including ARE Members, passionate about optimising business models and performance of microgrids in remote, island, off-grid, and grid-connected scenarios.

    The following topics highlights the main results from the discussion:

    • The need to support early stage testing and scale up of innovative technologies and business models that will accelerate access to affordable energy services to households and enterprises.
    • In developing and operating mini-grids for rural electrification, there is a need to be innovative, to combine and to adjust technological components in order to meet needs of specific projects;
    • Political, social and cultural considerations are equally important as technology considerations when implementing rural electrification projects;
    • There is continued need to bring together project developers and finance entities in order to match funding to development opportunities and encourage growth; and
    • Women play a key role in guiding clean technology adoption and implementation at the household level, even if this key role is not immediately recognisable to the outside observer.
  • 5th Off-grid Experts Workshop (Memmingen, 27-29 September 2017)

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    Under the motto “Switch on Off-Grid” an exclusive circle of 400 experts met for the 5th Off-Grid Experts Workshop 2017. The participants came from Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia, North and Central America. The focus of this year’s workshop was on insular solutions, meaning power supply far from the grid. In that context, ARE Board Member Michael Wollny shared productive use case studies from ARE Members.

    On Tech-day (27 September 2017), ARE Member Stimulus and ARE Communications & Marketing Officer Ling Ng offered two free-of-cost trainings to 40 participants to encourage off-grid practitioners to be more customer-oriented, resulting in greater customer engagement and enhanced customer satisfaction – throughout the solar PV deployment process. The training was met with great enthusiasm. ARE was also among the 40 exhibitors which was a good opportunity to inform participants about the association’s work and Members’ expertise.

    Finally, ARE, represented by ARE Board Member Michael Wollny, was honoured to give out the prizes to the winners of the Off-grid Award: MicroEnergy International, ARE Member Rafiki Power and Lagazel. [Press release]

  • Unlocking Solar Capital: Asia (Singapore, 28-29 September 2017)

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    ARE Board Member Katarina Hasbani presented on “Innovation in Off-Grid Solar for Rural Areas” during a panel discussion at the conference, which brought together 200+ investors, financiers, solar developers, IPPs, EPCs and other solar stakeholders interested in developing bankable PV projects in the region.

    Some of the topics of discussion during the panel included:

    • What does innovating business models in off-grid solar really mean? 
    • What are possible paths for business model innovation in off-grid solar for rural areas?
    • What are the enablers of innovation for off-grid solar in remote areas?
    • What are some examples of companies with innovative business models?

    Read more about the outcome of the panel here.

  • Fostering the deployment of Renewable Energy in Ethiopia: A Sustainable Roadmap (Addis Ababa, 3-4 October 2017)

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    ARE Member RES4MED / RES4Africa launched its Ethiopia programme at this high-level event with  300+ participants and more than 90 speakers. The participants met for a multi-stakeholder exchange on the country’s renewable energy transition, and in particular discussed lessons learned, identified gaps and proposed solutions for a smooth deployment of renewable energy in Ethiopia.

    ARE Policy & Business Development Manager David Lecoque spoke on the panel “Decentralised Renewable Energy Solutions to Foster Economic Development.” [Press Release; ARE Interview]

  • Talking Business: Microfinance for Decentralised Renewables in Africa (Addis Ababa, 9 October 2017)

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    The side event, organised by ARE with the support of RECP and ARE Member ADA in the context of the Africa Microfinance Week, attracted over 40 renewable energy companies & project developers, microfinance players (including investors, MFIs, researchers, banks, networks, governments, insurers, etc.) as well as the public sector.

    The workshop was a good occasion to meet microfinance players and inform the audience about ARE services and activities for financiers and developers interested in venturing into Africa’s renewable energy market. The workshop was very interactive with both speakers and moderator engaging actively with the audience on what it takes to bridge the gap between the implementers and the financiers and why finance is not supporting renewables at the necessary scale.

    Some of the key issues raised included missing information, risk (performance, reputation), immaturity of the sector, governance, small ticket sizes, lack of guarantees for the MFIs, and finally new types of financial intermediaries who combine the knowledge of renewable energy and how it can be commercialised should be considered for the future.

  • ECOWAS Sustainable Energy Forum (Dakar, 11-13 October 2017)

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    The 1st edition of the forum brought together over 70 stakeholders to promote cooperation to support the acceleration of sustainable solutions to the region’s energy situation. Crucially, this event saw the launch of the Regional Off-Grid Electrification Project (ROGEP) funded by the World Bank – a 200 million USD programme aiming to boost access to finance for solar off grid electrification in the all 15 ECOWAS countries and additional countries such as Mauritania, Chad, Central African Republic and Cameroon.

    With the topic of standalone solar systems addressed on 12 October 2017, ARE Executive Director Marcus Wiemann contributed as a panelist in the session on “Improving the enabling environment for companies promoting standalone solar systems.” He also met with the representatives of ECREEE and the World Bank to enter into discussions on how ARE and its Members can best contribute with their expertise to the success of the program.

  • Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE) Humanitarian Workshop (Nairobi, 1 December 2017)

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    On the occasion of the 2017 Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE) Humanitarian Workshop, the UN Foundation is hosting – in collaboration with the SAFE Working Group – a day-long side event dedicated to clean energy mini-/micro-grids (including hybrids) in refugee camps settings. ARE is a supporter of the side event.

    The purpose of the event is to:

    • Raise awareness among humanitarian agencies about the role clean energy mini-/micro-grids can play in powering refugee camps and saving costs overall;
    • Identify key barriers and potential approaches to deploying clean energy mini-/micro-grids in refugee camps; and
    • Help mini-/micro-grid practitioners – particularly those from the private sector – learn about opportunities to engage with humanitarian organisations, and vice-versa.
  • [Invite] Intersolar India: Off-grid Power Workshop (Mumbai, 7 December 2017)

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    https://www.ruralelec.org/business-opportunities/simpa-networksARE and Intersolar India are happy to invite you to the ARE Off-grid Workshop in Bombay Exhibition Centre, Mumbai on 7 December 2017. The workshop is a part of Intersolar India (5-7 December), India’s largest exhibition and conference for the solar industry.

    The aim of the workshop is to discuss market and policy conditions, business opportunities, cross-sector cooperation, standards as well as to showcase financial and technical instruments supporting rural electrification projects in India and South Asia.

    Contact: Jens Jaeger (ARE Policy & Business Development Officer - Asia)


    Silver Sponsor


  • 2nd Energy Week in Latin America & the Caribbean (Buenos Aires, 4-7 December 2017)

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    The 2nd Energy Week in Latin America and the Caribbean will be the platform of exchange of experiences and knowledge of the energy transition in the region. Based on its experiences from energy access projects in the region, ARE will be present to share the industry’s recommendations to improve future developments.

    Below is an overview of the activities planned for the week:

    • Day 1: 7th Regional Energy Integration Forum (FIER)
    • Day 2: 49th Meeting of Experts of OLADE, Regional Dialogue of Energy Efficiency of ECLAC, 2nd Regional Workshop of the Project: Vulnerability in the hydroelectric systems of the Andean Zone
    • Day 3: SEforALL Hub Americas Conference & Opening of the Meeting of Energy Ministers IDB- OLADE
    • Day 4: IDB Energy Policy Regional Dialogue & 47th Meeting of Energy Ministers of OLADE

    More information to follow soon on our website.

  • RES4Africa RES-EXPO 2017 (Nairobi, new date: 23-24 January 2018)

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    RES4Africa, with the support of Africa-EU Energy Partnership and other partners, organises a regional conference, to enable a dialogue on the latest insights for the deployment of RE solutions in Eastern-African countries. The event is tailored towards building on the ongoing policy dialogue, and scaling existing networks for companies to connect and form partnerships. The conference will include partners from key African markets, and will gather relevant international and African stakeholders such as IFI’s, manufacturers, institutional actors, international organisations, academia, and civil society to enable a comprehensive discussion.

    RES-EXPO 2018 is designed as a regional conference and showcasing exhibition, including B2B matchmaking sessions organized by the EU-Africa Renewable Energy Cooperation Program (RECP). The conference will touch upon the key topics for renewable energy deployment such as policy and regulatory frameworks, financing solutions and business models, technological and technical issues, capacity building and socio-economic benefits to local economies. The exhibition allows for local, national and international RE solution providers to present their business and products. The B2B sessions will be an opportunity for these companies to connect and foster new business opportunities in the Eastern-African renewable energy market. RES4Africa supports the development of African start-ups with innovative solutions that contribute to local entrepreneurship and answer the region’s energy needs. A side-event for the award ceremony of “East-African Renewable Energy Innovation Competition 2017”, launched in April by Enel Global E- Solutions, is foreseen during RES-EXPO 2017.

    ARE Members and Followers who wish to exhibit benefit from a 10% discount!

    Contact us for more details.

  • [Save-the-Date] 4th ARE Energy Access Investment Forum (Sicily, 13-15 March 2018)

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    Since its first edition in Madrid three years ago, the annual Forum has become the key milestone event in spring where the clean energy off-grid sector gathers together to learn more about upcoming new support schemes and initiatives by the public sector as well as latest industry trends and product and service innovations from the private sector.

    The 2018 Forum is organised in collaboration with RES4Africa and is the meeting place for 350-380 participants from all over the world to identify and get introduced to the most interesting actors to present their own business proposals.

    The Forum will be divided into two days and a diverse agenda:

    • Day 1: Conference Day
    • Day 2: Business Matchmaking
    ARE is offering a unique opportunity to increase your visibility and position your company at the forefront of the off-grid sector. Our Sponsor Package provides you with some early insights about the Forum and also outlines the different sponsoring opportunities available to best match your targets, objectives and values.

    Contact: Ling Ng (ARE Communications & Marketing Officer)


  • IEA: Energy Access Outlook 2017: from Poverty to Prosperity

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    http://www.iea.org/access2017/Efforts to promote electricity access are having a positive impact in all regions, and the pace of progress has accelerated. The number of people without access to electricity fell to below 1.1 billion people for the first time in 2016, with nearly 1.2 billion people having gained access since 2000, 500 million of which were in India. Most progress has been made in developing Asia, where 870 million gained access since 2000, of which  India account for 500 million gaining access – one of the largest electrification success stories in history. There is also for the first time a positive trend in sub-Saharan Africa, where electrification efforts have been outpacing population growth since 2014. However, progress is uneven, and there are still more people without electricity today than there were in 2000.

  • SEforALL: Energizing Finance

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    This report is specifically geared for government leaders, public and private finance players and energy access enterprises - at the international and domestic level - that all play critical roles in catalysing action on access to electricity and clean cooking.

    It takes stock of global progress and strategies to provide international and domestic finance for electricity and clean cooking access in 20 high-impact countries predominately in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. These countries account for 80 percent of the 1.06 billion people lacking electricity and 84 percent of the 3.04 billion living without clean cooking, identified in the Global Tracking Framework. Given their weight in terms of unserved populations, they jointly provide a reasonable first order approximation for the overall access situation globally. Eleven of these countries additionally have explicit targets for electricity and/ or clean cooking access in their Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

    A core objective of this report is to provide a practical pathway for governments, financial players and other key decision-makers in allocating international and domestic finance, so that energy access services can be delivered to more people, more quickly and affordably. It explores financing for less-costly, decentralised energy solutions that provide affordable options for rural populations - as well as investments that extend the grid.

  • GOGLA: Global Off-grid Solar Market Report

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    The report, which covers January to June 2017, includes performance data from 65 companies. Despite a 7% drop in worldwide sales volumes of off-grid solar products since the last report, there remains a buoyant market in which companies are taking an optimistic approach.

    Several market drivers have been identified as having a significant influence on the report findings. They include a drought in East Africa, demonetisation in India, and increasing commodification in smaller product categories, increasing the amount of poor quality and copycat products. According to the International Energy Agency, the sector needs to grow significantly in order to meet universal energy access targets by 2030 - on the order of an additional 195 million people. To realise this goal, critical barriers to growth need to be addressed. However, players within the sector continue to hold a positive outlook. Companies are expanding into new markets, and innovating with different government partnerships that are enabling further expansion. 

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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