Solar-powered technology to level the playing field for women and girls in world’s poorest countries
Today, the Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund has awarded 20 organisations, including several from the UK, a total of £2.9 million of funding for innovative, solar-powered appliance technology projects that will help to level the playing field whilst addressing the climate emergency in some of the world’s poorest countries.
Women and girls and other disadvantaged groups in developing countries will have better access to clean energy, thanks to new funding from UK aid and the IKEA Foundation.
Today, the Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund has awarded 20 organisations, including several from the UK, a total of £2.9 million of funding for innovative, solar-powered appliance technology projects that will help to level the playing field whilst addressing the climate emergency. The Modern Energy Cooking Services programme is funding six clean cooking projects, as part of this call for proposals.
The winning projects include Neopenda’s project, ‘A wireless vital signs monitor for new-born babies’, which will pilot an affordable and wireless vital signs technology in low-resource health facilities in East Africa. The company’s neoGuard technology allows clinical staff to monitor up to 20 patients at a time. In this project, neoGuard will be introduced to six to eight health facilities in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
Jirogasy’s project ‘Jirodesk V2: Solar-powered computers to enable digitalisation in the off-grid market’ seeks to make e-learning more accessible in Madagascar. The project will develop an energy efficient, all in one, solar powered PC, which can be assembled locally. Once the pilot project is complete, the company aims to provide computer access to over 10,000 students in Madagascar every year.
Simusolar’s project ‘Developing an inclusive, gender-customised Pay As You Go (PAYGO) model for productive uses of energy’ will help female smallholder farmers in off-grid, off-network areas to use solar water pumps and other appliances. Simusolar and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) will develop an innovative data syncing method called ‘PAYG Bridge’ that broadens the coverage of Simusolar’s PAYG platform.
International Environment Minister Zac Goldsmith said:
“As we recover from the coronavirus pandemic, we have a unique opportunity to build back better and create a greener and more inclusive global economy. That’s why we’re funding innovative solutions for clean energy to protect our environment, while helping to level the playing field for women, disabled people and other disadvantaged groups in some of the world’s poorest countries.
“UK aid has already given 26 million people improved access to clean energy and we will continue to drive global change, including as hosts of COP26 next year.”
In the past year, the Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund has supported 21 organisations with over £2.5 million and facilitated a further £750,000 to six electric cooking projects with funding from UK aid. The Research and Development Fund aims to accelerate the availability, affordability, efficiency and performance of a range of appliances that are particularly suited to developing country contexts and promote social inclusion.
Jeffrey Prins, Head of Portfolio – Renewable Energy, IKEA Foundation, said:
“The IKEA Foundation is proud to support these innovative projects through the Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund’s third funding call. We want to inspire and influence the renewable energy sector to embrace productive use of renewable energy in all aspects of human development work, which will make our societies more inclusive and greener. These awardees will do just that.”
Mike Thornton, Chief Executive, Energy Saving Trust, said:
“The Research and Development Fund is a vital part of the Efficiency for Access Coalition and we are very pleased to be delivering it in collaboration with our partners CLASP. With an emphasis on inclusivity and enhancing the compatibility of devices, the awardees will play an important role in driving growth and clean energy innovation in the off-grid appliances market.”
About the Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund
The Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund’s Enabling Technologies funding call provided funding for targeted innovations in inclusivity and interoperability.
Awardees received funding to support the implementation of their projects over a two-year period, with individual awards ranging from £50,000 to £270,000.
Many off-grid companies do not create products which have systems and components that can work together in the same environment.
This is an important feature of mature markets for a range of technologies around the world.
Around the world, 840 million people live without access to electricity or appliances that help them earn an income or provide access to communications or clean cooking.
Vulnerable and marginalised groups such as women and girls, people with disabilities, children and stateless people are particularly affected.
Efficiency for Access
Efficiency for Access is a global coalition working to promote high performing appliances that enable access to clean energy for the world’s poorest people. It is a catalyst for change, accelerating the growth of off-grid appliance markets to boost incomes, reduce carbon emissions, improve quality of life and support sustainable development. Efficiency for Access consists of 15 Donor Roundtable Members, 10 Programme Partners, and more than 30 Investor Network members. Current Efficiency for Access Coalition members have programmes and initiatives spanning 44 countries and 22 key technologies.
The Efficiency for Access Coalition is coordinated jointly by CLASP, an international appliance energy efficiency and market development specialist not-for-profit organisation, and UK’s Energy Saving Trust, which specialises in energy efficiency product verification, data and insight, advice and research.
UK aid from the UK government, through the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is the UK Government department that pursues UK national interests and projects the UK as a force for good in the world. FCDO promotes the interests of British citizens, safeguards the UK’s security, defends UK values, reduces poverty and tackles global challenges, including climate change, with international partners.
About IKEA Foundation
The IKEA Foundation is funded by INGKA Foundation, owner of the Ingka Group of companies. The IKEA Foundation is independent from the retail business with a sole focus on creating brighter lives on a liveable planet through philanthropy and grantmaking. Learn more at www.ikeafoundation.org
Adili Solar Hubs (Kenya) – Solar powered ice flake machine
Adili will develop an integrated system comprising a solar-powered ice machine with a water purification unit. By producing ice with clean water at the shore, Adili Solar Hubs aims to bring cold chain management services to local areas, so that fishermen can do so for an extended time. This will keep the harvested fish fresh for longer, increasing its economic value.
Angaza (USA) - A protocol for secure communication between any off-grid appliances
Angaza will develop software that allows off-grid appliances to securely communicate between themselves and cloud services. It will enable consumers to connect off-grid appliances made by different manufacturers and access cloud services of their choice. The company will release this as an open-source product, available for new off-grid appliances in development.
BioLite Kenya (Kenya) – Developing a Hybrid AC/DC Electric Pressure Cooker with residential and productive use applications
BioLite proposes to develop, field test, manufacture, and distribute a hybrid AC/DC electric pressure cooker, which is tailored for cooking the most popular dishes in East Africa. It will feature safe, efficient, and user-friendly technology.
Burn Manufacturing Co (USA) – Piloting innovative energy monitoring unit attachments in Tanzania
This project will pilot innovative energy monitoring unit (EMU) EPC attachments in Tanzania. The EMUs will enable users to understand their own energy usage easily and allow BURN to collect data on consumption patterns.
Green Empowerment (USA) – Open-source solutions for smarter load management
Off-grid environments present many challenges to electricity providers, which include ensuring power systems are affordable for consumers and can meet their energy demands. In response, Green Empowerment and partners in Southeast Asia will develop an open-source, mini-grid management and optimisation tool. This will be made accessible to a network of developers working to benefit marginalised, indigenous communities.
Jirogasy (Madagascar) – Solar powered computer made in Africa for the off-grid market
Jirogasy’s project will leverage its local manufacturing capabilities to develop a solar powered computer that combines solar home system and computer features. A prototype will be deployed in schools for a pilot project. Once the pilot is complete, Jirogasy aims to provide computer access to over 10,000 students per year in Madagascar.
Kachione LLC (Malawi) – Efficient empowerment: How “Earn & Grow” creates solar electric cooking access for African women
This project applies advanced energy efficiency concepts to off-grid cooking. It will create a new model to empower women living in rural subsistence economies through the acquisition of efficient solar electric cooking. The project will achieve this through pilot testing and evaluation of small collective, solar electric kitchens using an Earn & Grow business model and Africa-made, battery-free solar home systems with efficient insulated solar electric cookers.
Nadji.Bi Sénégal (Senegal) – A connected solar platform with software to ensure a sustainable business model for millet flour production
Nadji.Bi Sénégal’s project will develop a solar solution to produce millet flour, which will be connected and managed by a smart software applications platform. This will enable a pain-free and pollution-free flour processing solution, which can help improve quality of life for women and girls. It will also help families generate more income, as larger amounts of grain will be processed.
Neopenda (USA) – A wireless vital signs monitor for newborn babies
Neopenda’s project aims to introduce an affordable and wireless vital signs technology called neoGuard to low-resource health facilities in East Africa. It will continuously monitor the temperature, pulse rate, oxygen saturation and respiration rate of critically ill newborns.
Okra Solar (Australia) – Efficient AC cooker use and adoption validation for DC mesh networks
This project aims to help women in countries with no or weak grid to access improved electricity-based cooking. The goal is for high efficiency EPC, rice cooker and vacuum thermos to be identified, procured and deployed for use in Okra mesh networks in Cambodia. The technology will be designed and tested in Okra solar mesh-grids while using off the shelf AC inverters.
Omnivoltaic Energy Solutions Company Limited (Hong Kong) – Device data discovery as a service
Omnivoltaic Energy Solutions’ project will develop hardware that records and sends important data from off-grid energy access technologies and appliances. This will provide a more general framework to collect and record data.
OVO Solar Technologies Inc. (Canada) – Developing a modular solar powered egg incubator for smallholder farmers
OVO Solar Technologies’ project will develop a modular Pay As You Go enabled, solar powered egg incubator. This will allow farmers to scale their hatchery production as they grow their poultry businesses.
PEG Africa (Mauritius) – Innovative solar-refrigeration solutions for West Africa
The project aims to develop affordable solar refrigeration solutions for women working in commercial settings in Senegal and the Ivory Coast, which will help increase their income. This includes women who are fishers and traders, as they sell perishable goods without access to reliable and affordable refrigeration.
PowerGen Renewable Energy Limited (Kenya) – Empowering women living in rural areas of Tanzania through mini-grids and ultra-efficient chicken egg incubation
PowerGen’s project will pilot a locally sourced and produced egg incubator from Tanzania for PowerGen mini-grid customers. It will target female poultry farmers and measure the social and economic impacts of egg incubators as mini-grid compatible productive use appliances.
Powerhive Inc UK Limited (UK) - The Jerr-e-Can
Powerhive will develop a swappable battery pack called the ‘Jerr-e-Can’, which can help improve the use of existing mini-grids. The company’s project will also include an app for renting appliances and purchasing electricity.
Rural Electrification Authority (Zambia) – Design prototyping of a smart-ready board for rural applications
Rural Electrical Authority (REA) is devising a project to develop a smart ready board (SRB), which will efficiently release energy for domestic and productive uses of electricity. This will target rural areas where many people lack access to energy. It will also provide an energy efficient cooking solution, which will reduce labour for women who spend a lot of time collecting firewood for cooking. The SRB will integrate electrical energy storage, smart energy metering, energy dispensing and the mini grid.
Simusolar (USA) – Developing an inclusive, gender-customised PAY-Go model for productive uses of energy
This project will expand Simusolar’s Internet of Things platform with an innovative, gender-inclusive strategy that allows women farmers working off-grid areas to benefit from solar-irrigation systems and financing.
Sunphase AS (Norway) – New 24/7 off-grid solar electric cookstove with built-in energy storage for refugees
Suphase AS’ project will test, demonstrate and validate a user-friendly new PV solar cookstove. It is the first solar stove that can be used in doors continuously, has built-in thermal energy storage, and eliminates the need for firewood and LPG.
Village Infrastructure Angels (UK) – Developing a solar washing machine and drying system
Village Infrastructure Angels’ project will develop an energy efficient solar washing machine and dryer, which is powered by DC electricity. The dryer will be multi-purpose, with the ability to dry crops and clothes, and dehydrate food for long-term storage using improved cookstove and DC electric fan technology.
Wala Ltd (Malawi) – Harnessing the sun for agriculture
Wala’s project will pilot a holistic support solution that distributes high quality solar irrigation equipment to smallholder farmers in Malawi. The project will include:
Connections to financing partners to help save and access soft loans for the technologies and farm inputs
Contract farming which will ensure secure & consistent revenue (this will also enable the farmers to have capacity to pay for Wala Ltd equipment)
Increased chances of success through training on how to use and maintain solar technologies, good agriculture practices and business skills related to farming.