2018 is a pivotal year, with a high-level global spotlight on SDG7 and universal energy access. Power for All will be redoubling its efforts to advocate on behalf of the DRE sector and catalyze markets, while also going deeper on a few key themes: integrated energy (with a focus on the future role of utilities, including mini-grids), the SDG7 nexus with other development goals, skills and jobs, and knowledge sharing. Our direction continues to be guided by input from campaign partners, and we were proud to be at the recently concluded GOGLA forum, where we provided updates to campaign partners on our plans for the year, and heard about priorities from dozens of campaign partners in 1:1 meetings. (See a partial list of expected trends for 2018 from our communications director William Brent).
Below are highlights of our 2018 plans, as well as updates from our country offices. Please contact us if there is any area of particular interest to you.
A major goal of the campaign, first put forward by our CEO Kristina Skierka in May of last year, remains to replicate the market activation model for sector building that we and our partners piloted in Sierra Leone, by expanding to 25 countries by 2025. The Sierra Leone work, which resulted in a range of successes, including the entry of many private sector companies to the market (d.light, Ignite Power, Azuri Technologies, Greenlight Planet and more), was recently nominated for the Energy Access Frontiers category of the respected Ashden Awards. The work was also presented at an International Solar Alliance event organized as part of the World Future Energy Summit, where it was recognized as a “Best Practice for Solar Market Building”.
Mini-Grids and Utilities 2.0
Following on the heels of calls to action in 2016 (focused on multilateral development banks) and 2017 (focused on national policy makers and regulators), our call to action in 2018 will go one level deeper, with a focus on ensuring the utilities of the future are ones that fully integrate and give equal footing to decentralized solutions. A key component of that work will be to provide advocacy support for mini-grid companies in the same way we have supported standalone solar solutions since launching the campaign in 2015. For more on our perspective on the role of utilities, please see our CEO Kristina Skierka’s perspective in this month’s newsletter.
Our research arm, the Platform for Energy Access Knowledge (PEAK), is in for a major evolution this year. Starting in December, PEAK started alpha testing a first-of-its-kind interactive knowledge platform designed to directly address the information access and use gaps facing the DRE sector. The platform is designed to automatically curate, and index vetted, reputable, open-access research, helping users to quickly find, visualize, and draw insights that enable easily shareable, compelling, data-driven proof points. The platform is being built in partnership with an expert tech team from Silicon Valley. Look out for our public launch coming soon.
Also to support data sharing, PEAK, in partnership with GOGLA's Social Impact Metrics Working Group recently established the DRE Data Working Group. The group is a broad network of institutional representatives involved in data curation and energy access analysis. It creates a shared space for quickly and easily sharing updates on new data, reports and information being published across relevant fields (e.g. impacts, finance, policy, technology). Updates from this group will directly inform PEAK and is a first step for better cooperation and coordination for the DRE sector. The Data Group was launched at GOGLA's Off-Grid Solar Forum, in Hong Kong January 2018. To find out more about the Data Group and how to join, please contact Dr. Rebekah Shirley, our Director of Research.
Power for All has also been busy supporting research and data sharing in direct, hands on ways on the ground in Nairobi, Kenya, where PEAK is based. Power for All, in partnership with Hivos, Practical Action and wPower launched the Kenya Energy Access Research Working Group. The Working Group convenes actors in the local energy access space to support coordinated, organized, efficient activity among partners in the aim of faster action and impact realization. The kick-off was in November 2017 and our next working Group meeting will be in February.
In Nigeria, activity is heating up, with a growing number of actors entering the market, amid growing excitement about the prospects for decentralized renewable energy (DRE). Power for All is at the center of activities. In December, we hosted a stakeholder workshop with sector companies held on the sideline of the mini-grid conference organized by the World Bank and the Nigeria Rural Electrification Agency. The workshop consisted of a combination of short presentations, open discussions and ‘rapid-fire’ style interventions where Power For All shared with partners its year in review of the DRE sector in 2017, its planned activities and projects and long term projections for the DRE sector in Nigeria for 2018 and beyond. The workshop had over 30 participants in attendance, cutting across mini-grid developers, clean energy distributors and entrepreneurs. Power For All also attended the Mini-Grid Action Learning Event. The week-long event consisted of a combination of presentations, panel sessions involving different stakeholder groups, a technical conference, and a field visit to rural communities electrified through mini-grids. The event was a success and participation of over 600 stakeholders, including government, investors, industry players, financiers, CSOs, individuals and the media.
Also in December, the South Saharan Social Development Organization (SSDC) with the support of Power For All hosted the Ola Ndi Igbo Exhibition, Inventors and Innovators Fair – a biennial event focused on showcasing local inventions and innovations across education, agriculture, information, entertainment, and environment providing local solutions in the southeastern region of Nigeria. This year’s event was focused on showcasing renewable energy related inventions and innovations. To commence 2018, the Nigerian team also organized a full-day team retreat to review project and activities of the previous year, plan ahead for the successful implementation of upcoming projects and activitie, and review the Power For All guidelines of operations and organizational structure to ensure achievement of our national goals and objectives.
In Sierra Leone, our work to help strengthen the private sector voice continues, using support from DFID to build capacity for the nascent Renewable Energy Association of Sierra Leone (REASL). Specifically, we’re working to create a functional secretariat, identify potential funders, enhance partner relationship with government, and to help them develop a training curriculum.
In India, we have been supporting the India Energy Access Summit (IEAS), the most important sector-focused event in India for the year co-organized by The Climate Group and the Clean Energy Access Network (CLEAN). We also worked with Husk Power Systems to announce their $20 million investment from leading global energy companies, with broad international media coverage including Greentech Media, Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg, and a host of leading India and African media outlets (including ESI Africa and the Economic Times).