Closing the Data Collection Gap

I am just back from the the Second High-Level Meeting (HLM) of the Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP) which took place last week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The theme was “Taking the Next Step: Africa and the EU are tackling energy challenges together”. I had hoped to send an entry while there but there were too many interesting people to talk to and the time just slipped away.

REN21 was there to participate but also to host a couple of side-events, one of which was on the challenges of closing the data gap. Despite being held just prior to the High-Level Meeting the event was well-attended and the lively discussion illustrated just how important/difficult/frustrating the issue of data collection is. The participants were from NGOs, research institutes, government and business with the result that the session was not one of finger pointing (as to who was at fault for not leading the data collection “brigade”) but rather an energetic discussion about how to close the data gap. We grappled with what we mean when we say “data” and who should engage in the process. Two key points came out of the discussion. Continue reading “Closing the Data Collection Gap”

Women Kenya making headway in male-run areas cookstove market

 A gender based training event run by GVEP  has been equipping women with knowledge and skills as well as boosting their confidence to tackle the predominantly male-run activities of stove cladding and assembling.

Janet Adeyo, a business woman and a mother of four from Nyahera, a small village on the shores of Lake Victoria, Kenya, is a role model to many women in the region. Janet has become well known in Kisumu for producing high quality improved cookstoves. She has recently attracted the attention of Kenya’s national television station and was invited to share her story on a talk show. This in turn has contributed to her local fame and constituted a launching pad for her business beyond her region. Continue reading “Women Kenya making headway in male-run areas cookstove market”

Minigrids and 100% access

2014 marks the decade of Sustainable Energy for All. Given that 1.3 billion people do not have access to electricity and a further, 2.6 billion people rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating (IEA, World Energy Outlook 2013), we have our work cut out for us if we are to meet the goal of 100% access.

One way to help meet energy access needs is through mini-grids. Mini-grids are power solutions for isolated sites, such as islands and towns in remote mountainous or forested areas, where the grid cannot easily reach and where “stand-alone” power systems are not technically or economically viable. They are different from stand-alone solar PV or wind systems because they are larger in capacity (up to 1 MW), serve entire communities through distribution networks (instead of individual sites), and often incorporate a number of technologies (e.g., hybrid generator-wind-PV systems). They are expandable and can be managed by community groups or small businesses. Continue reading “Minigrids and 100% access”

SunCulture technology gives hope to farmers in Kenya

A Kenya based company that distributes solar irrigation kits to local farmers could transform agriculture through solar powered irrigation – a cost-effective solution to low rainfall and spiking energy prices. GVEP is working with SunCulture to provide strategic advice on expansion into new markets.

SunCulture’s AgroSolar Irrigation Kit is a solar powered drip-irrigation system, designed to benefit those who live in arid and semi-arid areas. The SunCulture AgroSolar Irrigation Kit combines cost-effective solar pumping technology with a high-efficiency drip irrigation system which makes it cheaper and easier for farmers to grow fresh fruits and vegetables. The pump allows farmers to pull water from a variety of water sources, including groundwater and lakes, using solar power. Water is then pumped into a raised storage tank during the day, enabling irrigation to take place during the evening. SunCulture’s solar-powered drip irrigation systems deliver water directly to crop roots, resulting in yield gains of up to 300% and water savings of up to 80%. Continue reading “SunCulture technology gives hope to farmers in Kenya”

Climate Change Showdown.

REN21 is gearing up for its participation at the climate change talks in Warsaw.  While climate is not a central theme to REN21’s work, renewables should be a central element of any climate action plan.

Despite tremendous growth in renewable energy witnessed over the last decade, fossil fuels continue to be a destructive force on our environment and the chief contributor to global climate change. Fossil fuel combustion currently accounts for nearly 70 percent of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, two-thirds of which come from the energy sector. Although renewables accounted for 19 percent of global energy consumption in 2011, new estimates for CO2 emissions from traditional fossil fuels reveal a 1.4 percent increase, resulting in a record high of 31.6 gigatonnes (Gt). Continue reading “Climate Change Showdown.”

Empowering women in business

A recent publication from the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves draws attention to the critical role that women play in scaling up the market for clean cooking solutions. GVEP’s experience in working with women-led businesses demonstrates that with the right support, tailored to their specific needs, the entrepreneurial spirit of women can be channelled into a thriving business.

In a newly published resource guide, The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves highlights the vital role that women play in scaling up the adoption of new clean cooking products and services, provided that a gender sensitive approach is used in integrating them in every step of the value chain. Their active participation to the business environment can in turn increase their bottom line, while providing health, environmental, and social impacts – state the authors. Continue reading “Empowering women in business”

Entrepreneurial-minded Investors Needed!

The last time I wrote I talked about a renewable investment meeting that I attended in Accra. That meeting has stayed with me because of the frustrating disconnect between viable energy options and monies available. The finance people that I spoke with cited that many commercial institutions don’t see distributed energy as bankable yet. But this is not true; many business models are quite sustainable. It’s more a question of belief. Most financiers are quite conservative. They are not comfortable in this new market (renewable, decentralised energy provision) with a new segment of the population (large numbers of customers with extremely low purchasing power) and a new business model (pay-as-you go schemes, such as progressive purchase models, use of scratch cards etc.) But the market is there as witnessed by the amount of money low-income households are willing to spend on energy services (candles, kerosene, diesel) and amenities like airtime for cellular phones. Continue reading “Entrepreneurial-minded Investors Needed!”