Fact Sheet: Mini-Grids in India

As one the world’s leading mini-grid markets, India can scale the role of private rural utilities to help meet domestic and international energy access challenges. In the first of two fact sheets, we look at the current state of the Indian mini-grid sector and the challenges it faces.

You can download the Fact Sheet here

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Campaign Updates

Growing demand by Nigerian states for DRE training

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During two regional DRE 101 workshop in Kogi and Enugu with high-level state and regional policymakers, the Power for All team received a deluge of requests from other states for similar training. Power for All has been conducting the trainings as part of the Scaling Off-Grid Energy (SOGE) project, but was only funded to do a series of six regions.

Then Abia State announced their intention to fund six members of the Power for All team to replicate the DRE 101 for 150 policymakers and bureaucrats in May. The State Governor and Deputy Governor attended, as well as officials from various government ministries, agencies and departments.

“We are completely amazed at their commitment to making this happen,” said Ifeola Malo, Power for All’s Country Director in Nigeria. “Abia State is one of Nigeria’s three largest small-scale manufacturing and trading zones. They see electricity as integral to making the country the number one hub for manufacturing and trading. That’s why this is important to them.”

Around seven of Power for All’s technology and corporate partners came to Abia to partake in this training. The workshop opened potentially new markets for Power for All’s private sector partners as communities,while the government initiated conversations with partners regarding the siting of mini-grids as a way to increase rural electrification in the state.

Allwell Okere, Abia Commissioner for Energy, said: “Abia State is ready to embrace DRE and is looking to work with Power for All to set up a taskforce and build a framework that will drive DRE adoption in the state in order to help it meet its 100% electrification rate target by 2020.”

Meanwhile, the third regional DRE 101 workshop was held in Calabar in the South-South region of Nigeria on June 12-13, with a total of 120 attendees comprising policymakers from Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Edo states, and community and civil society organizations. For many of those in attendance, it was their first point of awareness with DRE solutions and the session helped to dispel misconceptions of renewable energy. The workshop also provided an opportunity for the attendees to share ideas on how to increase energy access in their states through government policy, customer and community engagement, and media and advocacy.

Nigeria country director on battery recycling

Batteries International, a trade publication for the energy storage and battery industry, interviewed Power for All’s Nigeria Country Director, Ifeoma Malo on the growing problem of improper management of used lead-acid battery in the country.

Malo highlighted the fact that only 13% of used lead-acid batteries in Nigeria are properly recycled with only one official lead battery recycling plant. She added that with the Federal Government’s target of 10,000 mini-grids by 2023, it meant there will have to be a framework for disposing of these used batteries as well as more recycling plants.

“There is going to be a huge amount of batteries coming into the country for these mini-grid installations. In seven to 10 years’ time, these will be reaching their end of life and we don’t have systems in place to deal with them,” she said.

“We are working with the government and the ministry of the environment, to create a framework for battery disposal to create some sort of regulatory framework.”


PEAK data platform nears July 2018 launch date

Through its campaign, Power for All has found that stakeholders within the sector lack access to relevant information about distributed technologies, policies and markets.  

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In July, Power for All will officially launch the Platform for Energy Access Knowledge (PEAK), a new interactive knowledge platform designed to curate, organize and synthesize relevant DRE data into digestible, shareable and usable knowledge.  

Through a specialized DRE library, data management and storage, data indexing, document annotation and data visualization tools, PEAK will help aggregate and repackage the best information into compelling data-driven knowledge products for individuals, organizations and communities working to make energy accessible to all.

Spotlighting Mini-grids

While continuing to support the overall DRE sector, Power for All has been working this year to help elevate the role of mini-grids in addressing electricity access, through both communications and advocacy.

Two recent collaborations have resulted in high-profile thought leadership perspectives. Hannah Daly, co-author of the International Energy Agency's (IEA) recent Energy Access Outlook, was published by the World Economic Forum, outlining the potential for mini-grids to connect 450 million people by 2030.

In addition, Power for All worked with the Africa Mini-grid Developers Association and Smart Power India to put forward a global vision for the sector by the private sector, which was published in Project Syndicate, a global platform for leading opinion.

Congrats to all the Ashden Awards winners!

Many partners in the Power for All campaign were finalists in the 2018 Ashden Awards, which celebrate the best in sustainable energy. This year’s winners are pioneering sustainable energy solutions that transform livelihoods across three continents and address climate change from every angle.

The international winners include Angaza, which develops and markets hardware and software that enables clean energy products such as solar lanterns, solar home systems and mobile phone charging points to be remotely controlled - including being switched on and off – so they can be run on a Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) basis.

Chhattisgarh State Renewable Energy Development Agency (CREDA) has implemented solar PV, inverter and battery storage systems in almost 1,000 health centres of all sizes in Chhattisgarh State, central India. Ecozen Solutions enables farmers in Pune, western India to store produce at the point of harvest giving them greater control over distribution thanks to solar-powered cold rooms.

Lumos Global, the largest provider of off-grid solar systems in Nigeria, provides householders and businesses with a simple, affordable way to pay for solar energy on a subscription basis. Lumos customers sign up for the service at their local MTN mobile phone network stores and pay in small instalments via text message.


 












 

In Conversation With Lisa Jordan, Shine

 Lisa Jordan, Director of the Shine campaign

Lisa Jordan, Director of the Shine campaign

Shine is a newly launched global campaign dedicated to ending energy poverty. As Shine’s director, Lisa Jordan is working to mobilize foundations, communities of faith and investors that have previously not focused on the more than over 1.1 billion people who lack access to energy. In an interview with Power for All, Jordan outlined the campaign’s goals, including securing $200 million in new investment into energy access by 2020, and discusses the catalytic role that the faith community can play in achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7.

Listen to the interview here and read a summary below: 

The Right Time

Amid the energy transition to renewable energy unfolding across the world, Jordan said that we have an unprecedented opportunity to end energy poverty.

“We have plummeting prices for new technologies. We have mobile renewable energy technologies that can reach the last mile very, very easily. And that was not true five years ago. A lot of people outside our community are not aware of that fact,” Jordan said. “So, Shine's purpose really is to bring that good news message to many development actors; to investors, to faith communities across the globe, and talk about the opportunity that sits in front of us” to not only SDG 7 -- universal energy access -- but also many of the other SDGs that energy can enable.

Keeping The Faith

Recently, the Pope has come out in a very outspoken manner in support of climate action and social justice, and he's just one of many from the faith community who are supporting these goals. The potential influence is enormous. The Catholic church has over one billion followers, while the World Evangelical Alliance has more than 600 million.

“Shine has friends and partners from the Hindi communities, from the Islamic communities, from the Christian communities and from the Jewish community, so we are really ecumenical in that sense. We have all the major religions with us, and within those religions we have a lot of faith partners who are well organized: Islamic Relief Worldwide, the World Council of Churches, the American Jewish World Service.

“The faith communities have incredible agency, and we feel so fortunate to be able to work with them, because they have this depth and breadth of reach across the globe. But they're also well organized, and have a voice and an agency within policy circles. We need all those types of agencies engaged. We need to adapt in order to reach the last mile, and we need very strong voices on advocacy. We also need people who can really champion solutions.”

2020 Vision

Shine has three principal goals over the years to come: unlocking finance, championing solutions, and empowering local communities. The first means of increasing the flow of capital into social enterprises and viable businesses that have scalable solutions.

“We are trying to identify investment opportunities for mission-driven investors, and trying to accompany those partners in their journey to learn about access to energy. We would like to be able to find capital when appropriate, and unlock some new forms of capital -- especially in what's often described as the ‘missing middle’ of the capital spectrum, where you need concessionary tools moving towards more commercial tools in the financing world.

Shine launched in May with over $100 million in new commitments, and plans to double that by 2020.

“We need an enabling environment in order for that capital to be used for productive purpose. That enabling environment includes advocacy to educate decision makers about the opportunity for distributed solutions, and to remove many of the barriers that exist within the field. We'd also like to see more agency come from demand-driven approaches towards access to energy.

“So, our second commitment is really to champion solutions, and we can only do that with partners like Power for All, like the ACCESS Coalition, Practical Action, SEforALL. It’s really a joint group effort to help facilitate at the highest levels of policymaking, when you're unleashing voices from those who are experts in this field, and from the communities who actually need access to energy to be able to inform the policy dialogues.”

Empowering Local Communities

Shine is committed to empowering local communities, says Jordan, by supporting local capacity and community-based approaches.

“This regularly includes things around community organizing, and identifying those demand-driven solutions, and the holistic development approaches to access to energy, because energy is an enabler for economic empowerment, for human rights, for health and education outcomes.

“We would like to be able to ensure that the kind of energy resources being developed have those development outcomes associated with them. This requires that we bring in many new partners into the field of access to energy, who are traditionally oriented towards peace or education, or health, or women's economic empowerment, or human rights. So really to expand the fields and have more actors who are traditionally not associated with climate change or renewable energy."

Shine was founded by Wallace Global Fund, SEforAll and GreenFaith.



 

The New Activists

 350.org activists send a strong message about the effects of climate change on the Pacific and the need for the world to act.

350.org activists send a strong message about the effects of climate change on the Pacific and the need for the world to act.

Different campaigns across geographies are uniting to support a renewable energy future, says May Boeve of 350.org

Not long ago, the idea of a 100 percent renewable energy future felt mostly aspirational. I remember an early 350.org office with a Clean Energy Jobs! poster out front, which frequently attracted passers-by to come in and ask for a job application. I felt sheepish when this happened, really hoping that this future would manifest but, quite honestly, doubting it. There is, after all, so much bad news on the climate front.

 May Boeve of 350.org

May Boeve of 350.org

The good news consistently comes from the solutions. Like the fact that the cost of a solar panel dropped 90% in a decade. Or that projections for solar added to the grid each year beat the forecasts every single time. And that these advancements can help become drivers of reducing inequality; those who need these resources the most can and should be the first to receive them. Thanks to groups like Power for All, Solutions Project and the 100% Percent Network, there is an abundance of evidence, tools and resources to keep this good news going.

Now, numerous people around the world are connecting to the electrical grid for the first time - and they are leapfrogging fossil fuels entirely. For this generation, electricity and solar and other renewable power go hand in hand. Goodbye to the outmoded model of digging up dead dinosaurs and burning them in polluting power stations.

For instance in Africa, Ghanaian campaigners G-ROC (Ghana Reducing Our Carbon) celebrated the temporary halt of plans for a proposed Volta River Authority coal-fired power plant in the Ekumfi region, following three years of campaigning against it. They are still campaigning for its permanent cancellation, but with one in every three Ghana citizens lacking access to electricity, the team are now also pushing for energy solutions, including solar home systems and renewable mini-grids, that can transform the country.

Chibeze Ezekiel, Ghana campaigner, said, “The benefits of renewable energy are massive - for our environment, health and wealth”. As part of 350 Africa’s DeCOALonise campaign, G-ROC has launched the Renewable Energy for Communities campaign (#RE4C) to bring evidence-based, action-focused solutions  to the Ghanaian government to embrace the use of renewable energy in its development agenda.

A winning formula is emerging around the world: Grassroots communities are regularly defeating dirty energy projects, whether it’s pipelines, fracking wells or new coal mines, through a handful of tools. At 350.org we’re uniting many different campaigns across geographies under the banner of Fossil Free, aiming to attract more and more cities into this growing movement. This isn’t a new demand, and our partners, particularly locally, have led the way. We hope to create much more momentum behind the demands, attract more commitments, and in so doing help bring about a Fossil Free world.

A lot of this change is possible because of changing models of activism, which are decentralized and can spread to more people more quickly. Part of the inspiration for the creation of 350.org was the very fact of the internet itself; that digital tools could help unite groups of activists who might never meet each other face to face, but who could find common links in their campaigns. We see this happening every day, when an idea in one corner of the globe (like ‘kayaktivism’, where kayakers block ports that are attempting to move fossil fuels) spreads to another through a compelling photo in a tweet.

The campaigns to move communities off dirty energy work symbiotically with those seeking to build decentralized renewable energy. It’s supply and demand in action. That’s why we’re so excited about the Power for All network, and why we’re eager to create more linkages in countries that are facing pressure to build coal plants, but know that they deserve solar instead.

Much of this will come to a head during the RISE for climate action mobilization on September 8 later this year, when communities will gather to make Fossil Free commitments, including 100% Renewables, just in time for the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.

May Boeve, executive director of 350.org. For more info visit: gofossilfree.org

Nigeria’s Abia State leads on scaling off-grid energy

 Nigeria Country Director, Ify Malo speaking to the participants at the DRE101 Workshop in Abia State

Nigeria Country Director, Ify Malo speaking to the participants at the DRE101 Workshop in Abia State

One of the major objectives of the Scaling Off-Grid Energy project (SOGE), funded by USAID and Power Africa and co-implemented in Nigeria by Power for All and FHI360, is to increase awareness and knowledge among sub-national policymakers of how decentralized renewable energy (DRE) solutions can accelerate energy access. The main platform for meeting this goal is a 6-part series of regional workshops, called DRE101, with the first two already held in Kogi State, North-Central Nigeria, and Enugu State, South-Eastern Nigeria.

The response to the workshops has been so positive that states are beginning to seek more detailed trainings and closer interactions with the project:

After two high-level members of the Abia State governor’s kitchen cabinet participated in the second regional workshop in Enugu on March 13, Abia State invited Power for All to the first state-focused DRE101 workshop for local policymakers. The training, which was funded by the state, was attended by close to 60 leaders, including state commissioners, special advisers to the governor, civil servants and bureaucrats, as well as trade associations and business and community leaders. The training was focused on ways through which DRE can increase electrification rates within the state, which are currently 58% of a household population of 992,432.

Held on May 30 in the state capital Umuahia, the workshop also included private sector partners of Power for All namely Solynta Energy, Protergia Energy, Astevens Group and Solar Sisters, who shared and demonstrated their solutions.

Allwell Okere, Commissioner for Energy, said: “Abia State is ready to embrace DRE and is looking to work with Power for All to set up a taskforce and build a framework that will drive DRE adoption in the state in order to help it meet its 100% electrification rate target by 2020.”

Most of the attendees were learning about DRE technologies for the first time, and were excited to learn of the recent advances and innovation in technology and business models. Several admitted to having their misconceptions challenged regarding the suitability or durability and affordability around renewables. Others decided to purchase small pico-home solar solutions to test out at home and several, or entered advanced talks with technology companies to partner in driving DRE to their homes and businesses.

During the training, the Power for All team took the participants through different aspects of DRE, such as the technologies available and how they can meet different tiers of energy usage, the business models available, and how they can be used to drive energy access for all levels of consumers. The private sector partners also spoke about partnership with the state government and other stakeholders.

 A group photograph of the participants at the training with the Power for All team and private sector partners

A group photograph of the participants at the training with the Power for All team and private sector partners

An engaged audience asked the Power for All team and the private sector partners numerous questions on DRE, mainly around technologies, cost and affordability, and the capacity of DRE solutions and durability. There were also questions on plans to build local capacity in the DRE sector in terms of manufacturing of equipment and training of manpower.

Unlike other DRE101 workshops, which were a one-day event, the Abia State government organized a second day with community representatives, women and youth groups, business unions and other relevant stakeholders.

The participation of these civil society groups was seen as crucial to the adoption of DRE in their communities through engagement and advocacy, promoting community ownership and building capacity to create employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for women and youth.

Moreover, it was an excellent opportunity to leverage knowledge of their communities to brainstorm ideas on how to drive DRE in the state by creating breakout groups focused on community engagement and participation, building and supporting entrepreneurship, aiding communities to attract DRE, and human capacity development.

The discussions were facilitated by the Power for All team and produced excellent ideas including: using influential members of communities such as village chiefs to increase awareness of DRE, encouraging cooperatives that will enable entrepreneurship and training of women and youth groups on DRE sales and installations.

These ideas were well-embraced by the state government and the private sector partners present, who also held a meeting facilitated by Power for All on how to execute DRE projects within the state.

Ify Malo, the Nigeria Country Director for Power for All said: “Working with the Abia State Government on this two-day workshop has been one of our highlights of the Scaling Off Grid Energy project. We are looking forward to working with them even more closely to actualize their energy access goals using DRE and we hope that other states shall emulate them in looking at decentralized renewables as the fastest, cheapest way to increase electrification for their residents.”