Newsletter - December 2014
Towards Achieving Universal Energy Access by 2030

Richenda's Message

Dear Friends,

Please enjoy this month's newsletter which includes some snapshots from our work in 2014.

Together with my colleagues in our energy access team here at the UN Foundation, I wish you all a very happy, powerful and bright New Year.

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Warm Regards,
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Richenda Van Leeuwen Executive Director, Energy Access,
United Nations Foundation.

Member Announcements


  • We Care Solar and partners continue to support efforts to address Ebola in Liberia and Sierra Leone
    We CARE Solar is continuing to support colleagues in West Africa in partnership with the Liberian Institute of Biomedical Research, Direct Relief, Last Mile Health, Medical Research Centre, and Wellbody Alliance. They have sent products to Liberia that are lighting up transit centers, holding centers and checkpoints. They are sending a further 50 Solar Suitcases to Sierra Leone, working together with a nurses association for deployment in local health facilities.

  • Eight19 raises £1 million
    Eight19, a leading developer of low-cost organic photovoltaics (OPV), based in Cambridge, UK, has raised £1 million to accelerate the roll-out of its off-grid solar and energy harvesting solutions. The Cambridge University Cavendish Laboratory spin-off has raised the new equity finance from investors led by IP Group plc and one of its managed funds. Existing investors have also supported the round.

  • CREDC project brings reliable electricity and clean water to Roguwa, Northern Nigeria
    The Community Research and Development Centre (CREDC), with the support of UNDP, GEF and Energy Commission of Nigeria is providing clean energy solutions to the community of Roguwa in Nasarawa state, Northern Nigeria. The project involves a 4KW solar micro off-grid system which will provide electricity access to 60 households and power a community borehole. According to a CREDC interim report, the project is 80% complete and will generate electricity from a central location in the community tagged the "Green House". Roguwa is one of many communities in Northern Nigeria not connected to the national grid. The population of some 5,500 had previously relied on unsustainable sources of energy such as kerosene lamps and wood, and drew water from locally constructed wells that have seasonal water supply.

    In spite of the Nigeria's great energy resources, approximately 60% of the population does not have access to electricity, with the majority living in rural areas. Through the provision of clean energy and clean potable water, the CREDC project aims to expand economic activities and improve livelihoods for the community while reducing their vulnerability to respiratory ailments from inhaling fumes from kerosene lamps.

  • SunFunder raises $2.5 million in Series A funding
    SunFunder, the US crowd-funding company that focuses on investing in off-grid solar projects in developing countries, has announced that it has completed its Series A equity round of funding, raising $2.5 million. SunFunder works out of San Francisco and Tanzania, and provides short-term, working capital and project finance loans for solar home systems, microgrids, and commercial solar projects in emerging markets.

  • SunEdison to match donations to SunFarmer's 'Give Power'
    The SunEdison Rural Energy Fund will be matching donations to SunFarmer up to $10,000 through the end of December.

  • Sunna Design's new product to light up roads
    Sunna Design has announced a new product, UP4, with solar panels that can be tilted and are specially designed to facilitate powerful road lighting. UP4 can be equipped with a THORN lantern, from public lighting specialist THORN, Sunna Design's new partner. Sunna Design report the UP4 is suitable for wide main roads, is heat resistant and easy to install. The company was recently awarded the Frost & Sullivan New Product Innovation Leadership Award to recognize best practices in product innovation.

  • upOwa announces new crowdfunding campaign
    upOwa has announced a new crowdfunding campaign to launch its field activities in a test area around Bafoussam, Cameroon.

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    Spread Light Series from Nokero

    Nokero's new YouTube channel features Nokero's work in the world and it's "Spread Light Series", featuring stories from the field from people who use Nokero products on a daily basis. Nokero has also announced the release of a new video "Solar Illumination".

Featured Member

Innovation: Africa: Empowering rural communities

Innovation: Africa, a non-profit founded in New York in 2008, works in rural communities across Africa to provide a range of development services to local populations to help alleviate energy poverty. It delivers clean energy to health clinics and schools, and provides solar water pumps for safe drinking water for predominantly rural communities. "We are a non-profit that's run by people who believe in social enterprise...because we know the challenges that communities face without energy," says Managing Director Rachel Ishofsky.

Starting a social enterprise in a time of crisis

Innovation: Africa was founded by Sivan Ya'ari, who spent a summer working on energy projects in West Africa and witnessed first-hand the role of technology and innovative thinking in bringing access to cleaner water, reliable electricity and better healthcare. "She saw that without energy there is no quality education and that medical care suffered greatly," Rachel explains.

To date, Innovation: Africa has successfully completed 85 projects in Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal and Ethiopia, serving over 700,000 people These include electrification of clinics to improve maternity services, energy services to light up schools and solar pumps to support provision of clean drinking water and irrigation for crops to help reduce malnutrition. "When we started in 2008 we were in the midst of a financial crisis. I was in Tanzania when the stock markets crashed and I still remember Sivan and I looked at each other and said 'Are we really going to start a non-profit now? Who does that?," Rachel recalls.

'If you can't find the clinic, you can't find medical care'

Innovation: Africa started by improving maternity services in African countries, given how surprisingly common it is for women to give birth by the light of a candle or a kerosene lamp. Innovation: Africa has worked extensively on clinic electrification in rural Africa, delivering small-scale solar solutions that are appropriately sized to meet the needs of rural clinics. "Rural clinics have basic energy needs: they need light both outside and inside the facility and a refrigerator to store medicines and vaccines. We start with this, and a few outlets for basic medical devices. We can always add to the system, but keeping it simple is what keeps it affordable and sustainable. Bigger systems become harder to maintain," Rachel explains. The results are stunning with some clinics seeing as many as four times the number of women coming in for professional maternity services. If you can't find the clinic, you can't find medical care at night, Rachel points out.

Buyinda HC Before 2

Midwife Rose Nabirye provided maternity services by the light of a kerosene lamp before the solar installation at Buyinda Health Center,Kaliro District, Uganda. Photo: Matthew Reber/Innovation: Africa.

Buyinda HC After 2

Celebrating the installation of solar energy at Buyinda Health Center in January of 2014. Photo: Matthew Reber/Innovation: Africa

'When children have to fetch water, they miss school'

The provision of clean water is critically important to health care, education and food security of rural communities. "You don't have proper healthcare for mothers, children and families if you don't have access to clean water," says Rachel. Evidence from the field suggests that women spend several hours travelling to and from the nearest water source, usually a hand pump, waiting in lines that are often 3-5 hours long. When children go to fetch water they miss school and it is girls' education that often suffers. More often than not, people don't have access even to a hand pump and rely on water from open wells and holes in the ground shared by animals, which are often a breeding ground for mosquitoes and water-borne diseases. In clinics, even basic surgery is not possible without access to clean water. "We truly see solar water pumping as being at the nexus of energy and health," Rachel emphasizes.

Clean water is also essential to tackle malnutrition in many parts of Africa. "Many of our clinics have Malnutrition Rehabilitation Units that are constantly busy. That is because if there isn't enough water to irrigate the soil, then there isn't enough food to eat. That's one of many reasons we provide rural communities with solar water pumping systems and train them in drip irrigation: to offer them food security and proper nutrition," Rachel explains.

'Once you power a clinic it truly is self-sustaining'

Installing a solar system in a clinic is an important first step, but most rural clinics cannot afford to replace system batteries. To help rural clinics maintain their systems and have a greater sense of ownership over their energy solutions, Innovation: Africa therefore offered mobile phone charging stations services - at medical clinics, in schools and at the water pumps. They worked for months with local groups, tribal leaders, government leaders, clinic staff, and others to help create a thriving market for mobile charging. "We work with them so they take ownership of the decisions for the mobile charging stations. That is very important to our model. Once you power a clinic, it truly is self-sustaining," says Rachel. In what is a welcome innovation in its focus countries, Innovation: Africa uses a custom-built remote monitoring device with a built in SIM card to relay information from the system to an online server via cell phone towers. If energy levels are dropping at a rural medical clinic, typically the community has forgotten to clean the panel, says Rachel. The local staff then inform the clinic that they need to clean the panels. If energy levels don't go up, diagnostics can be performed via phone. "The system allows us to do triage remotely, which saves a great deal of time and money and helps us be far more efficient," Rachel says.

'We want to push boundaries, keep learning'

As a result of the non-profit's work, communities are now more educated about solar products and understand the value of lighting their homes with clean energy solutions. Riding on a new wave of awareness about home solar products, the company is currently piloting Rural Energy Centers or "one-stop shops" for solar home lighting and entertainment solutions. The first Rural Energy Center will be completed in Lyama, Uganda, in January 2015.

However, Innovation: Africa's work at the nexus of energy and health care continues to be a priority. Rachel explains both the enormity of the challenge and the gratifying nature of the results that they have seen. In 2010 clinics in Uganda powered by Innovation: Africa became rural outposts for a massive emergency national Polio vaccination drive; With Polio vaccines stored in cool boxes mounted on bikes, health care workers drove out from the rural clinics to deliver vaccines to even more remote areas of the country. "The government of Uganda sent us a thank you letter saying because of our support they were able to reach 105 per cent of their target population...and this is just one of many stories," Rachel adds. To date Innovation: Africa has stored and supplied over 350,000 vaccines using solar powered refrigerators. "We've been at this for seven years, and our model is working. But the need is vast and there's a lot of work to be done. We're looking for new ways to work with others in the public and private sector to think even bigger," says Rachel.

To learn more, contact Bar Riese, Program Manager, You can also visit or instagram@innoafrica

Funding Opportunities

Closing Soon: DFID Impact Fund Call for Proposals

Proposals due December 31, 2015: The DFID Impact Fund invites proposals from impact investment vehicles – fund managers, holding and others to direct investment capital towards sectors or pro-poor businesses that are otherwise unable to attract commercial investment and require early-stage patient capital and technical support available through the Fund. These include businesses providing access to food, housing, energy, water, sanitation, health, education, financial services and livelihoods for the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) population. Given that microfinance has successfully attracted investment capital from other sources, microfinance-focused investment vehicles are excluded from the purview of this fund. The Fund will seek to invest between £5-15,000,000 per investment for a maximum period of 10 years. The DFID Impact Fund will be focused on investments in low income and lower-middle income countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia with a maximum of 15% of capital available for investing in India through a regional or a global intermediary. For details, visit: 

Update: Powering Agriculture Second Global Innovation Call

Submission windows for the second Global Innovation Call for Powering Agriculture: Energy Grand Challenge for Development (PAEGC) are now open. The last day to submit concept notes is February 12, 2015. The second global innovation call was released by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Government of Sweden, Duke Energy Corporation, the Government of Germany, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) on November 13.

The objective of PAEGC is to support new and sustainable approaches to accelerate the development and deployment of Clean Energy Solutions for increasing agriculture productivity and/or value in developing countries. For more information about the Second Global Innovation Call visit:

Call for proposals: Grant Funding for renewable energy projects in Indonesia

Up to USD 30 million will be available in grant funding from MCA-Indonesia, under the Green Prosperity Facility, to design, develop, construct and operate off-grid community-owned renewable energy projects. Proposed projects will have an installed net capacity of between 300 kW and 3 MW, with minimum project size of 50 kW per location. The US $332.5 million project aims to:

Increase agricultural productivity and household livelihoods by improving land use practices and management of natural resources, and Reduce reliance on fossil fuels and emissions of land-based greenhouse gases by expanding renewable energy.

Complete CFP applications are due February 16, 2015 at noon Jakarta time. An overview of the grant process and timelines are available here. WHO: Green Prosperity (GP) is a project under the Indonesia Compact signed by the Government of Indonesia with Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to catalyze sustainable development programs at the local level. To register and access the call for proposal and related documents visit:


IRENA/ADFD Project Facility: Third funding cycle open

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has announced the third funding cycle of the IRENA/ADFD Project Facility, seeking renewable energy projects in developing countries that are innovative and have the potential to be models for replication and scale-up. Deadline for applications is February 18, 2015 (17:00 Gulf Standard Time). Applicants need to register and apply online. The Project Facility is now offering lower loan rates for all cycles. For information about the Facility and to apply, please visit: or contact

Global Innovation Fund call for applications

The Global Innovation Fund (GIF) invites applications from social enterprises, for-profit firms, non-profit organizations, researchers, and government agencies that offer breakthrough solutions to global development challenges. GIF will offer grants, loans, and equity investments ranging from £30,000 to £10,000,000 at three different stages of a project: pilot, test and transition, and scaling up. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Learn more here.


Private Financing Advisory Network for Asia call for proposals

The USAID regional Private Financing Advisory Network for Asia (PFAN-Asia) is a five-year regional program that aims to accelerate private sector investment in clean energy projects and greenhouse gas emission reductions, open to businesses based in Southeast Asia and South Asia. It provides investment readiness assessments, mentoring services, match-making to investors, and tipping point assistance.
PFAN-Asia is looking for projects and companies that need financing for developing renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean transport related businesses in any of the following 12 countries: Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives. Submit applications – including a business plan or project executive summary – in electronic format to For more information, watch this video.




The Microenergy Systems Research Group at the Technische Universität Berlin, the BMS College of Engineering in Bangalore and the Berkeley Rural Energy Group at UC Berkeley, California, will jointly organize the MES 2015 Conference, an interdisciplinary and interactive forum for academics and experts to discuss the latest research and current trends in the field of decentralized energy supply.

The conference will take place in Bangalore, India, on April, 23-25 2015. Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri (Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC and head of TERI, The Energy and Resources Institute) will be the keynote speaker.

Other Upcoming Events

World Future Energy Summit (WFES) 2015
19-20 January 2015, Abu Dhabi-UAE

Power Africa Summit
28-30 January 2015, Washington DC

15th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit
5-7 February 2015, New-Delhi, India

RE-Invest : Hosted by MNRE India
15-17 February 2015, New-Delhi

Women in Energy Conference (Pre-Africa Energy Indaba)
16 February 2015, Johannesburg-South Africa

Africa Energy Indaba
17-18 February 2015, Johannesburg-South

The Second United Nations Sustainable Energy For All Forum
18-22 May 2015, UNHQ, New York

Amstad Global's Project Finance In Renewable Energy 2015
April 16-17, 2015, Vienna-Austria

MES2015: Micro Perspectives for Decentralized Energy Supply
April 23-25, 2015 Bangalore – India

EUBCE 2015: 23rd European Biomass conference and exhibition
1-4 June, Vienna-Austria

Monthly News Clips

Early-stage investments in off-grid solar companies operating in developing countries reached $63.9 million in 2014, according to a tally from Greentech Media. The diverse range of investments came from venture capitalists, impact investors, commercial banks and other large energy companies looking to expand into new emerging markets.

Energy demand: the neglected twin of renewables -
The 2015 Ashden UK Awards will highlight innovative solutions to the challenges of energy storage, energy demand management and energy efficiency. Here's why

Two competing innovators join hands to light up the country's dark belt - Forbes India
By slowly refining a distribution model, Greenlight Planet has been rapidly selling solar lamps to villagers who have no access to the country's power grid.

Energy storage is today where solar was in 2010 - set for exponential growth – Sun Connect
The cost of solar panels has plummeted more than 70 percent since 2010 and the number of new installations is more than doubling every year for exponential growth in the solar industry. So, what's the next step? Energy storage.

New Energy Access Reports

 Solar PV Guidebook, Philippines ASEAN-RESP and Support CCC
The Solar PV Guidebook jointly published by Renewable Energy Support Programme for ASEAN (ASEAN-RESP) and the Project Support to the Climate Change Commission (Support CCC) in the Philippines, provides insights into the administrative and regulatory requirements for on-grid solar PV project development in the Philippines and guidance for project developers, investors and other related stakeholders.

Poor People's Energy Briefing Series, Practical Action
Practical Action has launched the Poor People's Energy Briefing Series, which aims to offer critical input into the fast moving and dynamic energy sector from the perspective of poverty alleviation. The series complements Practical Action's flagship Poor People's Energy Outlook, which focuses on identification of new ways of understanding what energy access means for the poor, and what is needed to address it.

The briefing papers aim to share new evidence on the topic and the series aims to challenge the business-as-usual approach to energy access debates in thought-provoking ways. 'Enabling Energy Access for the Poor' launches the series by looking at gaps in the evidence base on decentralized energy access, discusses how this reflects the current shape of the sector as suggests implications for what research may be needed along with the topics that the series aims to cover. To download the briefing papers please visit:

The First Decade: 2004-2014 - 10 years of renewable energy progressREN21
A new report from The Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) documents the evolution of renewable energy since 2004, measures progress by technology and region, examines lessons learned and offers a vision for the future. The REN21 report shows how the market shares of solar, wind, biomass and other renewable energy sources have increased, and how the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) is an important metric for making new power generation decisions.

ECOWAS Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Status Report, REN 21
The report provides a regional perspective on the renewable energy and energy efficiency market as well as industrial development in West Africa. It details ECOWAS member states' commitment to developing renewable energy and energy efficiency by addressing current energy sector challenges while simultaneously building a resilient energy system. The report is available in English, French and Portuguese.

Renewables on the Rise, Heinrich Boll Stiftung
Ahead of COP 21 in Paris, West African civil society is in a unique position to bring their governments to adopt climate-friendly energy policies that also favor sustainable economic development for all. Drawing on the best available, most recent research, this report aims to support NGOs in developing lobbying positions on climate and energy policy that can effectively influence governments at the national and regional level. Based on a literature review of thousands of pages of research published since 2011, the paper provides a rapid assessment of energy policy options for West Africa.

Towards Green Growth in Southeast Asia, OECD
As part of its Green Growth series, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has published 'Towards Green Growth in Southeast Asia', outlining the unsustainable nature of Southeast Asian economic growth, particularly in terms of climate change, fossil-fuel-related pollution and over dependence on natural resources. According to the report, the depletion of natural resources is particularly severe in Brunei, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

The Emerging PV Market in Jordan, GIZ
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) report titled, Enabling PV in the MENA Region: The Emerging PV Market in Jordan identifies viable business models for solar PV in Jordan, analyses the legal and administrative process for select business model and formulates concrete solutions for strengthening the PV market in Jordan. The analysis was done by GIZ, the German Solar Industry Association and local PV business representatives.

Understanding the Energy-Water Nexus, ECN
A new report, 'Understanding the Energy-Water Nexus' from the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) takes a "nexus approach" to analyze the linkages among energy, water and food, with a focus on energy and water. The report is aimed at local and regional decision-makers who are responsible for the development and implementation of policies related to energy and water resource systems.




New Practitioner Network Members

The Practitioner Network now has over 2,000 members. Welcome to the following:

Africa Sustainable Energy Association /  (South Africa)

"African Sustainable Energy Association represents and actively promotes Renewable Energy Solutions in Africa. It brings together companies from around the world together so they can gain the knowledge needed to expedite the implementation of renewable energy as a significant source of energy."

Claire de Lune / (Burkina Faso)
"Clair de Lune is a distribution platform in Burkina Faso for off-grid solar lamps. Distribution is at the core of solving the energy poverty problem in West Africa and Clair de Lune's process innovation is leading the way."

DC HydroPower / Rwanda
"A hydropower development company based in Rwanda, DC HydroPower is a socially motivated company that is excited to tackle Rwanda's energy needs through our sustainable business model."

Enerwhere / (UAE)
"Enerwhere provides sustainable and economical solar-diesel hybrid energy solutions anywhere, thereby reducing fuel consumption and emissions from conventional diesel generators."

Enterprise Multiservices (EMS) / (Uganda)
"The Entreprise Multiservices "EMS" is a consulting firm dealing with all activities related to forest management and engineering, environment, land terracing, improved cook stoves and biomass energy including carbonization, charcoal production and others."

Gigastore Corp / (Taiwan)
Solar PV Energy Manufacturing and distribution.

New Dawn Energy Solutions / (Canada)
"New Dawn Energy Solutions provides complete energy solutions from site assessment to turnkey installation of energy systems. New dawn energy solutions mission is to bridge technologies to make effective energy solutions that are affordable and suitable for the local conditions."

Palawan Center for Appropriate Rural Technology / (Philippines)
"PCART's mission is to bring together the marginalized people of Palawan and enable them to address their pressing problems of poverty, lack of access to resources and environmental degradation."

Renewable Assets LLC / (United States)
"Renewable Assets, LLC is a full service, Renewable Energy project developer/EPC with a global market. RA has managed the development, design and installation of more than 400MWs of Renewable Energy projects across the US, Europe, East and West Africa and Ukraine."

REPRO Ltd., / (Rwanda)
REPRO Ltd., initiates, designs, develops and implements renewable energy and rural electrification projects. REPRO develops micro hydro power plants that supplies electricity to the national grid.

Rural Village Microgrid Team, Colorado State University / United States
One of the top five US recipients of federal research funding, the Colorado State University excels in Energy, Agriculture, Natural, Environmental, Sustainability, Social, Health and Atmospheric Science, Education and Business. The Energy Institute, Africa Center and the Center for Advancing Sustainable Enterprise at the Colorado State University are designing, testing and fielding a plug-and-play modular affordable Rural Village Microgrid (RVM) system which can be mass produced for methodical scale-up.

Swajal / India
"Swajal is the next-gen solution to the water scarcity challenge. We are working towards making water accessible for everyone."

Unique power solutions / Kenya
Provides clean and reliable power to rural and urban areas at reasonable and affordable prices.

Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro / Mexico
The Universidad Autonoma de Queretaro is an autonomous public institution focused on the comprehensive training through educational programs, research, partnership, dissemination and technological development.