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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WISIONS presenting at ICSD 2020

News from WISIONS posted on October 2nd, 2020

Last week, on September 22, WISIONS coordinator Carmen Dienst presented at this years International Conference on Sustainable Development 2020, which took place online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the theme "Local Energy Practitioners and new forms of knowledge exchange can be change-maker in achieving SDG7" and by reference to research of WISIONS the importance of alternative approaches such as empowerment of energy practitioners to enable energy access. ICSD 2020 Read moreMinimize

The figures of global energy access improve, but not fast enough to achieve SDG 7.1 – Access to universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030. And SE4All is right in saying that “the renewable revolution appears to be slowing down at a time when it needs to speed up” (SE4All, 2019). So despite the impetus of the global goal as well as the availability of appropriate and financially viable technical solutions, the implementation is still challenging.

In the last decade, Wuppertal Institute gained experiences on how local energy transitions at the community level can be realised and which factors are key for a long-term success and real pushing of development. This was possible through an initiative that combines grants with exchange of knowledge and research (WISIONS initiative). The implicit long-term objective of these energy projects was to contribute to local energy transitions and ultimately to the achievement of sustainable development goals (SDGs).

In different systematic analysis and ex-post-evaluation of small-scale energy projects, we could contribute to the proof of key elements of successful and promising energy delivery models (Terrapon-Pfaff et al. 2014). In a Theory-of-Change for productive use of energy (Terrapon-Pfaff et al. 2018), we lined out that (sustainable) energy access does not automatically result in productive activities as energy is only one of the input factors required to foster socio-economic development.

What we in particular learned and will be focus of the paper is the crucial role and importance of local energy practitioners working in regional rooted organisations.

There is tremendous knowledge and expertise among the local practitioners not only on technical issues, business models and strategies for capacity-building, but also on how to motivate and involve the communities to sustain the projects beyond the starting phases. The critical challenge is how to leverage this know-how and expertise within regions and across countries in the global South?

Of great important is enabling and improving knowledge mobilisation (i) among the energy practitioners (e.g. in networks and mutual exchange formats) as well as (ii) exchange with decision makers and financiers needed for scaling-up successful models.

Our paper will showcase experiences with different forms of South-to-South and Peer-to-Peer knowledge exchange that we initiated and accompanied. Due to the current pandemic, we will also discuss ideas and potential for new modes of exchanges and innovative online formats (like the Mini-grid-Game).

Next to experiences from individual knowledge exchange activities of our partners - like practice-to-policy approaches or learning across projects - we will also show the impact of long-term exchanges within practitioner networks. The latter is based on close cooperation with four networks, each focusing on a specific technical solution for a region. These networks have high potential to facilitate knowledge development and sharing but also for joint advocacy. We will shed light on their value to induce the broader dissemination of decentralised renewable energy solutions.

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:

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