We hope you all got a good start into 2020 and enjoyed the holiday season. This very first newsletter for 2020 presents a review of 2019 and a variety of our worldwide activities including project news, publications and events. If you have any questions about specific content, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With best regards,
Your WISIONS Team
2019 was an intense year in terms of energy and climate policy. Some progress has been made towards our common international goal of achieving universal access to sustainable and modern energy (SDG7) in terms of the electrification rate – finally the number of people with no access to electricity has decreased to 840 million, well below 1 billion! However, overall the figures show that we are not yet on track – despite the targets, proven technologies, suitable models and numerous pilots!
How can this wealth of experience be put to good use? And how can we ensure that energy access leads to improvements in livelihoods and wellbeing?
We are convinced that this will only be possible through active exchange and the empowerment of local people and energy practitioners who understand what is needed to implement energy projects in a way that ensures sustainable development – the people that matter and local action are key!
That is why it is encouraging to see how the energy practitioner networks have developed, consolidated and stabilised over the past year.
Inter-regional exchange is also the motivation behind our webinar series on burning topics, such as the question of how open source can help accelerate energy access, how renewable energy links with access to water for agriculture, or most recently the role of biodigestion for Latin America’s energy future, highlighted in RedBioLAC’s webinar series in Spanish.
We are looking forward to an inspiring year in 2020! The WISIONS team is excited to continue to be a driver of a just energy transition, with sustainability at its heart, by empowering people and working with our local and global partners to put knowledge exchange at the centre of our work.
Thank you very much for your continued interest in WISIONS and our projects. Enjoy reading our newsletter and we wish you a happy, relaxed and peaceful new year 2020.
Innovation has been at the heart of biodigestion development at local level in Latin America and the Caribbean in the last ten years and WISIONS has witnessed this at first hand via our close cooperation with RedBioLAC, the network of biodigesters for LAC.
These innovation dynamics are often not recognised outside the Spanish speaking world, which is why our latest webinar on 16th December discussed the development and advances of biodigester technology in LAC with three or our cooperation partners and experts in the field.
Mariela Pino, for many years the general coordinator of RedBioLAC, gave an overview of the numerous network activities, such as the online and in-person training sessions, the continuously extended open online library, the working groups and of course the important annual gatherings that are a hub of intensive exchange for all sorts of biogas practitioners. The 2019 annual gathering was in Cuba and in 2020 it will be held in Arequipa, Peru.
We learned from Jaime Martí Herrero, Biodigestion Expert at CIMNEand Ikiam University, that in contrast to developments in Asia and Africa, the typical fixed dome biodigesters are uncommon in Latin America due to their relatively high cost. Consequently, LAC has seen the development of low-cost tubular plastic or balloon digesters that are now widely established in several LAC countries and have been further modified and adapted to local conditions. These digesters can function even in the hostile climate of -5°C to -10°C – as in the case of Bolivia – as they are heated with passive solar energy during the days.
The third presenter, Sam Schlesinger, Programme Manager Ecuador, Green Empowerment, gave us a comprehensive overview of the different technological developments in the various countries over the last four decades. Colombia, for example, is a pioneer where in recent years a variety of grassroots organisations have established a very active network and have developed and tested applications for small family farms. In the last three years, Ecuador has also adopted biodigestion technology, as shown in the joint project run by Green Empowerment (Exchange: Capacity-Building, Democratisation of Technology and Local Advocacy through the Ecuadorian Biodigester Network (RedBioEc) (SEPS15); Improving Cacao Production and Processing While Meeting Cooking Fuel Demand in Ecuador (CRECER) (SEPS10). Nicaragua is currently the only country in LAC that has established a national programme.
The webinar provided the opportunity to discuss the challenges and barriers to the wider implementation of biodigester technology in LAC, which range from technical changes to financing the upfront costs. In comparison to plug-and-play solar technologies, behavioural change and a shift in culture is needed, which requires larger changes in the attitudes of smallholders.
Did you miss the HPNET webinar on “Mini-Grid Planning: Integrated Energy Planning for Rural Electrification”? You can now watch it here!
This webinar is the fourth in the 2019 series from HPNET supported by WISIONS and Energypedia UG. The four webinars have addressed topics that are crucial for establishing an enabling environment for the sustainable implementation of hydro mini-grids, ranging from the key role of local banks and the importance of having social enterprise models in place rather than focusing only on grant models, to showcasing training centres run by HPNET members.
The recent webinar addresses the topic of energy planning, discussing the importance of integrating the future potential of mini-grids into national energy planning and how this can actually increase the reliability of the central grid. Energy planning initiatives in African and Southeast Asian contexts, including Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia and Malaysian Borneo, are highlighted. The webinar covers:
• The basic criteria for a robust integrated energy planning process.
• Examples of national and regional programmes in Africa and Asia that are advancing integrated energy planning, and their experiences.
• Perspectives from a diverse set of energy planning practitioners – including a private utility company, national government, an international development partner and a scientific research institute.
• Tools and processes for integrated energy mapping, modelling and planning. Challenges and potential solutions that require further support and strategy.
Over 850 million people worldwide have no access to electricity. Decentralised renewable energies play an increasingly important role in tackling this problem and, in this context, off-grid small wind systems represent a viable solution for expanding access to electricity.
The article, "Rural electrification with household wind systems in remote high wind regions" by Philipp Schaube (PhD student at the Wuppertal Institute), Jon Leary and Luciana Clementi, compares two electrification programmes based on field studies and expert workshops. Many of the small wind turbines serving households in the Argentinean region of Patagonia and in the Falkland Islands are not connected to a fixed power grid for energy generation due to their geographical locations. The powerful winds that whip around the Southern Ocean create some of the most favourable conditions for wind power generation anywhere in the world. However, despite comparable environmental conditions and local livelihoods, the study shows that the effects of the electrification programmes vary widely according to location.
The authors identify critical success factors and provide recommendations for action relating to small wind turbines for future electrification initiatives. Important factors include constant project support, investment in robust equipment and the creation of effective feedback loops. Furthermore, the authors recommend that users should be empowered to take on as much responsibility for maintenance as possible by integrating maintenance practices in the local culture and ensuring the support of an effective decentralised maintenance network.
The article was published in "Energy for Sustainable Development" (Science Direct, Volume 52, October 2019) and is available free of charge via the link below.
Wuppertal Institute for Climate,
Environment and Energy GmbH
Postbox: 10 04 80/ D-42004 Wuppertal
Tel: +49 (0) 202. 2492 252
Telefax: +49 (0) 202. 2492 198