WISIONS of Sustainability

Our mission is to empower individuals and communities to transform the production and use of energy so that it effectively enables sustainable development. Read more about WISIONS activities, goals and background.

News Blog

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Virtual RedbioLAC Encuentro 2020 from 6-8 October

News from WISIONS posted on October 2nd, 2020

Next week the awaited time has finally come: RedbioLAC will hold their first virtual Encuentro from 6-8 October! Register now and get the latest information about biodigesters in Latin America and the Caribbean. Register here!

How can open source design contribute to achieving SDG 7?

News from WISIONS posted on September 23rd, 2020

What is the first thing that springs to mind when the words “open source” are mentioned? Wikipedia? Firefox, or any other freely accessible software? These are all good examples of open source technology, but did you know that open source also plays an important role in energy access and is key to achieving SDG7 in the Global South? Read moreMinimize

The basic idea of open source is that source codes, blueprints, data or documents are freely available to anyone. In terms of energy solutions for the Global South, the same concept applies. An open source approach can help overcome a key barrier in decentralized renewables in local communities: dependence on external technicians and materials, costly and inflexible systems.

We know that sustainable energy systems can be implemented more efficiently, affordably and reliably by local organizations. Local knowledge of the community’s context and specific needs, combined with open and accessible information, lead to improved capacities and the more effective use of local resources.

Many initiatives and organizations are dedicating themselves to the development of open source designs to help scale up sustainable energy infrastructure: good examples include Green Empowerment and the Hydro Empowerment Network (HPNET), with their work around load management in micro-hydro systems. Electronic load controllers (ELCs) are critical components for micro-hydro power systems, but imported ELCs are expensive and, when problems arise, local technicians are not able to repair them. Article no. 3 in this newsletter gives details about the ELC open source project conducted by Green Empowerment and HPNET.  LibreSolar take the same approach for solar charge controllers and battery management, while Connected Energy develop products for the solar PV and biogas markets. A further example is RedBioLAC’s knowledge dissemination on biodigester technology: a collection of all the relevant open source publications can be found on their website.

Open source equals technology and tools that everyone can own and share. An open source approach allows communities to take matters into their own hands and is an important step towards achieving SDG7 and providing affordable, reliable and sustainable energy access to all. As previously mentioned, a number of WISIONS partners and projects have focused on this topic and one project in particular focuses on rural communities in the Global South. In cooperation with the Hydro Empowerment Network (HPNET), open source education material for sustainable energy sources was provided by CREATE Borneo. This project put the WISIONS mission into practice by asking how open source has changed the availability of energy infrastructure in rural communities and improved their livelihoods. If you are interested in the open source material for this, CREATE Borneo provides a very interesting toolkit for energy practitioners. 

WISIONS facilitated in forms of webinar in February 2019 a discussion on the potential of open source and the obstacles to the approach, where LibreSolar and Connected Energy could present themselves and their work. For more information on WISIONS open source projects and those of our project partners, click on the following links:


New study about how small wind can bring sustainable energy development to rural communities

News from WISIONS posted on September 10th, 2020

In collaboration with an extensive group of researchers our WISIONS team members Carmen Dienst and Willington Ortiz published a new study about market assessment methodologies for rural electrification with small scall wind power. It will be published in November 2020 in the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Review Vol. 133, but can be already assessed here. Direct link to the studyRead moreMinimize
Abstract: 
The mass roll out of solar PV across the Global South has enabled electricity access for millions of people. In the right context, Small Wind Turbines (SWTs) can be complementary, offering the potential to generate at times of low solar resource (night, monsoon season, winter, etc.) and increasing the proportion of the total energy system that can be manufactured locally. However, many contextual factors critically affect the viability of the technology, such as the extreme variability in the wind resource itself and the local availability of technical support. Therefore, performing a detailed market analysis in each new context is much more important. The Wind Empowerment Market Assessment Methodology (WEMAM) is a multi-scalar, trans-disciplinary methodology for identifying the niche contexts where small wind can make a valuable contribution to rural electrification. This paper aims to inform the development of WEMAM with a critical review of existing market assessment methodologies. By breaking down WEMAM into its component parts, reflecting upon its practical applications to date and drawing upon insights from the literature, opportunities where it could continue to evolve are highlighted. Key opportunities include shifting the focus towards development outcomes; creating community archetypes; localized studies in high potential regions; scenario modeling and MCDA ranking of proposed interventions; participatory market mapping; and applying socio-technical transitions theory to understand how the small wind niche can break through into the mainstream. 

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