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Energy Catalyst Accelerates Innovation to Deliver Clean Energy Access

Energy Catalyst recently announced up to £40 million to support early- to late-stage innovators to develop market-based technologies and business models that accelerate access to affordable, reliable and low-carbon energy in Africa, South Asia and Indo-Pacific regions for Rounds 9 and 10 funding cycles.

The overall aim of Energy Catalyst is to create a just and inclusive energy transition and extend the benefits of clean energy to all, to meet Sustainable Development Goals 7 (Affordable and clean energy) and 13 (Climate Action).

Funding for the two rounds comes from the UK Government’s Ayrton Fund for clean energy innovation, including the scale-up of the FCDO’s Transforming Energy Access platform announced at COP 26 in Glasgow.

The Round 9 and 10 funding announcement follows the unveiling of the winning innovations in Round 8 in April, which saw 16 companies selected for their promising clean energy technologies.

Energy Catalyst, an Innovate UK Programme, is one of UK's biggest energy access-focused grant funding initiatives supporting the creation and demonstration of new technologies and business models to deliver a just and inclusive clean energy transition.  

Launched in 2014, the program has supported over 566 organizations, including 119 international partners and has provided £60m of funding for energy access technologies and business models and improved energy access in 36 countries.

“Our approach aims to go beyond conventional grant funding for technology innovation and tackles barriers that can inhibit progress through understanding local markets, infrastructure, and societal nuances to accelerate commercialization,” said Alice Goodbrook, Energy Catalyst lead at Innovate UK, in a statement announcing the new funding round.

This latest round of funding aims to support innovations that improve energy access in a sustainable way, reducing reliance on fossil fuels in these regions.

Innovations and Countries to Benefit from Round 8

Kenya is one of the countries that will benefit from Round 8  of Energy Catalyst as Free Running Buildings Limited and Smart Villages Research Group were among the companies selected to deploy innovations to transform the energy landscape in the country while also addressing gender equality and social inclusion.

The Smart Villages Research group is piloting a mobile mini-grid to rapidly scale rural energy access in Kenya to create an environment to address socio-economic challenges and strengthen efforts to ensure food security and support the productive use of energy. Free Running Buildings will develop and manufacture FRECOOL+ a novel wind tower technology that provides passive building ventilation and cooling that will first target schools, healthcare facilities, and office complexes in Kenya’s refugee camps then later to the commercial and hotel industry in the country and beyond.

Meanwhile, in Nigeria, Aceon Battery Solar TechnologyAzuri Technologies, and are the companies that  Energy Catalyst will support in the commercialization of innovative climate technologies and solutions aimed at reducing reliance on fossil fuels. Aceon is developing innovative off-grid energy storage using a portable and affordable Sodium (Na)-ion battery system while seeks to improve battery life and performance. Azuri is promoting solar power to tackle the grid’s power outages in the country.

The companies will give Nigeria opportunities to generate power through decentralized renewable energy. This will offer people not connected to the main grid an opportunity to own their power, quite literally.

Other Past Innovations

Energy Catalyst has also helped Uganda-based company Aptech Africa’s ‘Pay-n-Pump’, a solar PV-powered pump, to offer an affordable irrigation solution to low-income subsistence farmers unable to afford high-cost solar systems, potentially increasing their yields and avoiding the fuel costs of diesel-based pumps. The mobile pay-as-you-go (PAYGo) technology offers farmers the choice between two payment options for the pump systems: They use the pump as a prepaid service with a fee per liter that includes lifetime maintenance and irrigation training. In the other option, they purchase the pump on a lease-to-own basis with an affordable deposit and monthly installments.

More information and funding applications for R9, which opened from 18 May 2022 to 10 August 2022, are available from the UK Government’s website.

Also, listen to Alice Goodbrook in this podcast interview with Kristina Skierka on Energy Catalyst’s support for innovations to end energy poverty.

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