Madrid, 5 March 2015 - 150 energy access stakeholders from the public and private sector, as well as from civil society, gathered at the Ministerio de Economia y Competitividad to discuss opportunities in rural electrification markets in a one-day unique business matchmaking workshop. The Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE), in cooperation with ICEX Spain Trade and Investment, organised the workshop to further advance cooperation between the public, private and finance sector. This platform, organised by ARE on a regular basis, assists off-grid market professionals and newcomers to learn about upcoming initiatives and projects in the pipeline as well as to create new business opportunities in the sector.

Ernesto Macias, ARE President: “This event has had a very special meaning for me as it is the first time we organise such a workshop in Spain, which is my home country. Together with ICEX, we have worked to attract the attention of Spanish companies to the rural electrification business. The result has been very positive. But we need to keep on working on this issue – not just in Spain but also all around the world. Knowledge-sharing and providing matchmaking opportunities is the most important mission of ARE. I would also like to thank IDAE, EuropeAid and all the other sponsors for making the workshop possible.”

To provide context to the rural electrification situation worldwide, the workshop kicked off with presentations on regional policy developments and business growth options in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The scene was set by speakers from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the African Union Commission (AUC), Eurochambres/European Business and Technology Centre (EBTC) and Fundacion Accioná Microenergia. During this session, ARE together with the EBTC launched the India Off-grid Electricity Market Brief to serve on the common objective to facilitate rural electrification competence and technology transfer from Europe to India.

The subsequent session showcased opportunities for financing including the upcoming ElectriFI initiative by the European Commission and the tools available to support energy access projects by AECID, FRES and IRENA. This was concretely exemplified by success stories from ARE members Sunna Design and Mobisol who presented successful business models implemented by themselves.

Felice Zaccheo, European Commission – EuropeAid: “We are moving forward from setting our overall energy objectives and targets, to achieving real results through concrete actions. In order to succeed, we need the strong alliance of the private sector, both investors and developers, the banking and finance sector and donors all over the world together with Civil Society Organisations. The European Commission is committed to fostering this alliance and giving it the possibility of delivering access to sustainable energy in the developing world on a massive scale. Access to Energy is the ‘key-stone’ in any modern development cooperation strategy, and is therefore an extremely powerful poverty reduction and empowerment tool. The pinnacle of the cooperation of the different stakeholders, through ElectriFI, aims at reinforcing the sustainability element and to ensure that access to affordable energy services will be possible for poor households in rural and other areas. ElectriFI support will be provided in the form of "convertible grants" to investments. These grants will bridge the financial gap at an early stage to make it possible for projects to become bankable and, once projects succeed, will be paid back and re-invested in more projects in the sector.”

Participants also had the chance to meet with eight key rural electrification experts during the Energy Access Café in the afternoon. This was a unique and informal opportunity for participants to ask any burning questions they had for the experts. The diverse expert tables spanned from the European Commission, Eurochambres, IEC, RECP, EDP - Energias de Portugal SA, Siemens, Phaesun and Generalia.

The workshop ended with an energetic power pitch session from 13 speakers from the public and private sector, including RECP, EIB, Schneider Electric, the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, GIZ, CIEMAT, CLUB-ER, GDF Suez Rassembleurs d’Energie, SunEdison, Trama TecnoAmbiental, Smart Hydro Power GmbH, XANT and PlanetEnergy.

The workshop concluded with a networking dinner courtesy of the European Commission - EuropeAid.

MADRID, 6 March 2015 – At the 2015 ARE General Assembly the next day, ARE announced the election of three new members to its Board: Thomas Gottschalk (Mobisol GmbH, Germany), Karl Kolmsee (Smart Hydro Power GmbH, Germany) and Vivian Vendeirinho (RVE.SOL, Portugal).

Marcus Wiemann, ARE Executive Director: “The Alliance is delighted to welcome three new industry experts to the board. With their strong commitment and expertise in rural electrification, the association will be best positioned to further enhance the development and implementation of off-grid technology innovations. I would like to thank the previous board members Balthasar Klimbie (Clear Resources, the Netherlands), Claude Ruchet (Studer Innotec, Switzerland) and Xavier Vallvé (Trama TecnoAmbiental, Spain) for their timeless efforts in bringing rural electrification at the frontline.”

The new members bring to the Alliance an extensive and wide-ranging experience in energy access through renewables, including small hydro and solar technologies:

Thomas Gottschalk, Mobisol GmbH: “For a company like Mobisol, who believes off-grid electrification is the future of Energy, in particular in Africa, a membership and board seat in ARE are very valuable to share the vision and find the right partners to implement it.”

Karl Kolmsee, Smart Hydro Power GmbH: “As newly elected member of the ARE board, I am proud to represent an industry cooperation which does not primarily aim to lobby for its members but to build up a market for rural electrification empowering people which today have no lobby.”

Vivian Vendeirinho, RVE.SOL: "It is invigorating to be amongst so many thought leaders in the mini-grid electrification space at events like the ARE International Workshop on Energy Access. It is clear that all participants are interested in driving important dialogues around policy and funding in the industry, and these types of events are fundamental to this."


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Ling Ng

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Note to the editor

The Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE) is an international business association focusing on the promotion and the development of off-grid stand-alone and mini-grid renewable energy solutions for rural electrification in developing countries. We comprise about 80 members, including many market leaders.