WISIONS Webinar Series

8. Development and application of biodigester technology - Advances from Latin America and Caribbean

Over the last decade, diverse innovation dynamics in the field of biodigestion technology have been evident in Latin America and the Caribbean. One particularly strong line of innovation is characterised by the aim of developing biodigester designs and implementation concepts that better respond to the actual needs and conditions of the wide diversity of ‘agri-cultures’ in the region. The recognition of this common aim was one of the main triggers for the creation of the “Network of Biodigesters for Latin America and the Caribbean”(RedBioLAC).

In this webinar we talk with members of RedBioLAC to gain an overview of the significant contributions made in the region over the last decade in the development and application of the technology. We  consider questions such as:

  • What technological developments have been particularly important for adapting to the diverse conditions faced by farmers and other potential users of the technology in the region?
  • How has the dissemination of the technology been promoted in the region? 
  • What role is the technology currently playing and what role could it play in the future in moving toward sustainable societies in LAC?
  • What lessons from LAC are valuable for the development and application of the technology in other regions?
We explore these and other crucial aspects of the development of biodigestion technology in LAC with our speakers.

• Mariela Pino, General Coordinator of RedBioLAC (IG @redbiolac ; FB: @redbiodigestoreslac)
• Sam Schlesinger, Program Manager Ecuador, Green Empowerment
• Jaime Martí-Herrero, Biodigester Expert, CIMNE and Ikiam University
• Willington Ortiz, Regional Coordinator LAC, WISIONS Initiative, Wuppertal Institute
• Carmen Dienst, Head of Research Unit "International Energy Transition", Wuppertal Institute

Specific Objectives:
To showcase the main contributions made by LAC (and in particular by RedBioLAC) in the development of biodigestion technology and its application.

Here you can access the Online Library of RedbioLAC, where you can find all informations about biodigester technology: Online Library RedBioLAC

Download all slided of the webinar and presentations by the paneliste here: WISIONS Webinar8 All Slides

7. Energy for Water from "Sun&Co" - Renewable Energy Innovations for Irrigation

Innovation based on decentralized renewable energy can help tackle crucial technical challenges faced by family and small-scale farmers worldwide. Decentralized renewable energy enables the supply of energy directly where it is needed and deploys locally available energy resources. For these innovations the focus shifts from solely supplying energy to its application for the function required; e.g. pumping water, treating organic residues or processing produce.

In this WISIONS webinar we will learn how energy practitioners are advancing innovations based on renewable energy to improve water availability for family and small-scale farmers. While the general idea is simple (local energy supply enables water pumping, which in turn facilitates/improves irrigation options), a number of aspects should be considered: 

  • What strategies ensure that small-scale farmers can access the relevant technology, services and maintenance? 
  • How can improved water supply effectively translate into improved livelihoods and increased revenues? 
  • What options ensure that increasing the pumping capacity does not lead to greater depletion of water resources? 

With our speakers we will explore these and other crucial aspects for advancing renewable energy-based irrigation that effectively supports farming families’ livelihoods.

Lucie Pia Pluschke, GIZ Germany, Powering Agriculture

Pooja Sharma, Practical Action Nepal 

Jorge Ayarza, MinVayu and Wind Empowerment

Willington Ortiz, WISIONS, Wuppertal Institute


Jessica Rivas, WindAid Institute and Wind Empowerment

Download all individual slides of the presentations here: WISIONS Webinar7 AllSlides

6. How Can 'Open Source' Accelerate Energy Access For People Off The Grid?

Watch the recording here.

Open source, open innovation, open collaboration: most of us access information daily based on an ‘open’ approach. Open source technology – which emerged as a radical new approach to software – benefits from a collaborative and transparent approach. It allows people to adapt and improve technology according to their needs. An open source approach can progress more rapidly thanks to the crowd-based model that encourages experimentation. Open source technology is flexible, and it is sometimes even more reliable.

But how can this revolution in “openness” benefit people who need access to energy? In the case of energy access, open source technology allows people to adapt energy-related hardware, software, and data more easily to their local conditions, potentially saving both time, effort, and money in the process. The flexibility offered by open source technology means that people are not wedded to proprietary technology if they need to adapt to new conditions. Despite these benefits, obstacles to open source technology also exist.

In this webinar we learned how energy practitioners are applying open source to solve concrete challenges to energy access. We explored the possibilities and the difficulties of using open source technologies for advancing SDG7.

Specific Objectives:

  • To showcase how energy practitioners (and practitioners’ networks) are applying the open source model to SDG7
  • To understand the potential of open source technology for energy access
  • To identify the difficulties or limitations of deploying open source technology in the energy access space


Dan Frydman, Green Empowerment / Hydro Empowerment Network
Luiz Vila, Wind Empowerment
Vijay Bhopal, Connected Energy / Open Energy Access Alliance
Martin Jäger, Libre Solar / Open Energy Access Alliance

Moderator: Molly Hurley-Depret

 Download all individual slides of the presentations here: WISIONS Webinar Open Source Technologies Slides


5. Alternative Financing Ideas For Small-Scale Renewable Energy

Watch the recording here.

Financing is always top of mind for energy practitioners working on small-scale renewable energy projects. Many organisations struggle by year on year with project funding, which limits the sustainability of many small-scale renewable energy efforts. Undeterred, however, non-profit organisations and social businesses are looking for novel solutions to the financing challenge, solutions that are essential for achieving the SDGs and climate goals.

The speakers in this webinar have been at the forefront of finding creative, innovative ways to finance energy practitioners’ critical work. We learned about alternative financing from multiple perspectives: Nexus for Development will speak about their major finance mapping report Financing Renewable Energy in South East Asia; bettervest talked about its work as a crowd investing platform for renewable energy projects; and Winrock International Nepal told us about its work as a project developer and long-standing cooperation partner of WISIONS. 

Zita de Pooter, Grants and Membership Manager, Nexus for Development
Rohit Sen, Strategic Cooperation and Business Development Manager, bettervest
Badri Nath Baral, Director-REPSO Nepal, Winrock International

Molly Hurley-Depret

Download all individual slides of the presentations here: WISIONS Webinar Alternative Financing Slides


4. Great Expectations: Productive Uses Of Energy Off The Grid

Watch the recording here.

Great expectations abound for the so-called “productive uses of energy”. These uses of energy go well beyond solar lamps and cell phone charging. They aim to fundamentally improve livelihoods for people living beyond the grid by powering computers, agricultural machinery, and more.

Funders increasingly support energy projects and programmes that use energy productively. The assumption is that using energy for productive uses will enhance social and economic development and help reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The productive uses of energy could certainly help to reach these goals, as many examples attest. However, systematic evidence of these outcomes and impacts is still limited and questions remain:

Which complementary services are necessary to establish productive uses? Do productive uses of energy contribute to social and economic development? Why do many energy projects fall short to establish productive activities? Is there a tipping point for the amount of energy that will have the greatest impact? Which “productive” activities should be supported, and who will benefit?

In this webinar we have discussed these important questions and also given an overview of the current state of evidence on productive uses of energy and learned about pitfalls and successes along the way to improving livelihoods across the Global South.


Molly Hurley-Depret

Download all individual slides of the presentations here: WISIONS Webinar Great Expectations All Slides


3. Beyond Cooking: Biodigesters For Family Farming In The Global South

Watch the recording here.

In this third edition of our webinar series, we discussed how biodigesters and biogas can support farmers to increase the efficiency of their farm and improve their wellbeing.

Biodigesters are best known for cooking and several national programmes have successfully promoted it for this purpose. But biodigesters are more than that. They can help to improve the livelihoods of rural households in the Global South by treating organic waste, improving management of soil nutrients, providing clean energy and organic fertilizer, to name just a few of their advantages.

 Are the benefits of biogas and biodigesters being deployed by farmers? If so, where is this happening? Which gaps/missing links can hinder the uptake of this technology? Lastly, how can family farmers be better supported to take advantage of biogas and biodigesters?

Alex Eaton, Founder of SistemaBio 
Lylian Rodriguez, RedBioCOL
Willington Ortiz, WISIONS / Wuppertal Institute
Kevin Kinusu, Kenya Biogas Program

Molly Hurley-Depret

Download all individual slides of the presentations here: WISIONS Webinar Beyond Cooking All Slides 


2. What If The Grid Arrives? – How Off-Grid Renewable Energy Projects Have Adapted To Grid Arrival

Watch the recording here.

Off-grid renewable energy projects sometimes remain off-grid in the long-term. But in some cases, the national electricity grids reach these areas, leaving communities, governments, and other stakeholders with major decisions to make.

How can small-scale renewable energy projects adapt and plan for national grid expansion? What will become of these stand-alone renewable energy systems or micro-grid solutions? Will they sustain and survive? Can and shall they become connected to the grid? What are preconditions and challenges? And how can communities with off-grid systems best plan and prepare for this possibility?

In this webinar, we have shed light on the experiences faced across the global south through case studies and heared first-hand what happens when the grid arrives.

Chris Greacen, Palang Thai (further links to his books, see below)
Rebecca Leaf, Association of Rural Development Workers
Junaed Tazdik, IDCOL Assistant Manager, SHS Program
Mafruda Rahman, Green Climate Fund (GCF) unit of IDCOL

Moderator: Molly Hurley-Depret

All the individual slides of the recording above are also available here: WISIONS Webinar GridArrival All ppts190418light

Links to related literature:



1. Stronger Together: Why Networks Of Energy Access Practitioners Matter

Watch the recording here.

Access to energy has the potential to change lives across the Global South, and it is enshrined in Sustainable Development Goal 7. But often efforts are fragmented, and the same mistakes are repeated. That’s where networks of energy practitioners come in.

Energy practitioners are spearheading efforts to make sure that those most at risk of being ‘left behind’ are included. Their work in the field, academia, development institutions and in communities means that they have in-depth knowledge of the requirements, conditions, and challenges of ensuring sustainable energy access. Mobilizing their knowledge and expertise is essential to achieving SDG 7 and supporting many other SDGs for people and the planet.

Jem Porcaro, Senior Director for Energy Access, UN Foundation
Willington Ortiz Orozco, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy
Dipti Vaghela, Hydro Empowerment Network Coordinator and Fulbright Public Policy Fellow
Mariela Pino, RedBioLAC Coordinator
Harihara Mohapatra, COO, Clean Energy Access Network (CLEAN)

Moderator: Molly Hurley-Depret

All the individual slides of the recording above are also available here: Wisions webinar Energy for Water all slides