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.
WISIONS & Wind Empowerment Webinar: Small wind for powering off-grid communities: Market assessment methodology and cases from Peru”
News from WISIONS posted on July 18th, 2020
Off-grid electrification solutions powered by renewable energy technologies are increasingly recognized as the most suitable alternative for reaching a great portion of the 800 million people lacking access to electricity today. In regions with suitable wind resources, and with appropriate planning, off-grid small wind turbines can provide significant contributions to closing the energy access gap.
- How can the potential contribution of small wind for electrification schemes be assessed?
- What should be considered in order to ensure that small wind turbines effectively contribute to close the energy access gap?
- How can the benefits of small wind power be maximised?
- 1st part: WE Market Assessment methodology (20 minutes)
- 2nd part: CERC presentation of current experiences and proposed microgrid project in Peru (20 minutes)
- 3rd part: WindAid presentation on small wind experiences in Peru (20 minutes)
- Discussion (30 minutes)
Alfie Alsop is a PhD Candidate at Strathclyde University’s Wind and Marine Energy Centre for Doctoral Training, Glasgow, UK. His research involves integrating decision analysis and GIS techniques into market assessment methodologies for small wind turbines in a rural electrification context, building upon previous Wind Empowerment projects to assist policymakers and stakeholders in developing countries in making energy and planning decisions. Alfie joined Wind Empowerment in 2016, assisting the Market Assessment Working Group with the Global Market Assessment for Small Wind Turbines, and has been Treasurer of the Executive Board since the WEPatagonia 2016 conference.
Heduardo Vargas is a Peruvian professional in environmental sciences dedicated and committed to real sustainable development through concise and impactful actions. For the last five years, he has worked in the energy sector towards a greener energy future. He is the co-founder of the newest research group Microgrids for Sustainability and works as a project engineer in Peruvian company Waira Energía. He is in charge of designing photovoltaic, wind, and hybrid energy systems for projects in the whole country, considering technical, economic, environmental, and social aspects in the development. His teamwork and commitment have allowed him to represent his company in several conferences and training courses as both speaker and attendee, both nationally and internationally.
José Armando Gastelo-Roque believes energy transition is the pivotal issue to achieve sustainable development. He was born in Lambayeque-Perú and he holds a degree in Mechanical Electrical Engineering in Perú and Mexico. He is co-founder of the newly formed organization “Microgrids for Sustainability”, which seeks to provide energy access and to promote the energy transition through the implementation of renewable energy microgrids in Perú and Latin America. He is also a Development Engineer at Engie Peru, where he is dedicated to develop and to implement renewable energy projects. José Armando is passionate about science, his thesis focused on new hybrid metal-organic materials for solar cells. He has done research stays at the MIT in the United States and at the Balseiro Institute in Argentina. And he has participated in several international events, including the Wind Empowerment Conference 2018 in India, the Student Energy Summit 2019 in London and the IRENA Youth Forum 2020 in the United Arab Emirates
Kimon Silwal is an Electrical and Electronic Engineer graduate from Kathmandu University. He joined KAPEG in 2010 in the position of research staff and is currently working as the company manager. He has worked as an activity leader and project leader in numerous research and development projects until now with locally manufactured small wind technologies, solar-wind hybrid systems, low head pico-hydro turbines and control system, electric cooking stoves and water purification systems for off-grid applications in collaborations with national and international universities and government organization. Currently, his involvement has been focused towards developing effective standards, guidelines, and delivery models for the small wind turbines in Nepal while consolidating various areas for the further development of the off-grid solar and wind hybrid sector in Nepal.
Gandhi Alva was born in Trujillo Peru. He studied Anthropology at the National University of Trujillo. Working with many different Peruvian communities around the country doing social studies and social projects in order to benefit the locals. Additionally he has worked nationally and internationally with the Peruvian government and private organizations doing social projects ranging from: environmental, educational, female empowerment, construction and cultural heritage. With WindAid, as the Head of Community Project Development he has had the chance to develop social projects via researching the local populace and their interaction with the electricity provided by WindAid wind turbines and other activities in his area such as basic training of the WindAid turbine system or environmental education workshops. After an exceptional internship Gandhi was the first permanent Communities Employee for WindAid managing teams from all over the world to work directly with rural populations in over a dozen Peruvian communities understanding the impact of the wind turbines WindAid creates and creating more project opportunities with better refined planning and impact analysis.
Is COVID-19 having an impact on SDG 7 in the Global South?
News from WISIONS posted on July 6th, 2020
For more than three months, the pandemic has impacted on our societies, economies and politics. Although restrictions are being gradually lifted, the impact of the pandemic in the Global South in terms of poverty, hunger, economic shock and unemployment is severe. With few domestic resources to counter the crisis, the one-size-fits-all strategy of social distancing and stay at home does not necessarily meet the needs of citizens in developing countries. The IMF estimates that an additional 50 million people will fall below the poverty line in the short term, with other studies expecting the figure to be up to ten times higher. If these appalling predictions are correct, the international community must become more active than ever on this issue.
Key measures are already being taken to support the Global South to absorb the shock, such as the emergency plans announced and introduced by the World Bank, as well as the EU and German Federal Ministry for Cooperation (BMZ). However, many claim this will not be enough and propose a “Marshall Plan” for development and debt cancellation. But what can we expect in the fields of energy access and sustainable energy? How will the progress made to date on SDG 7 be maintained and how can we ensure that we do not lose ground?
As the latest SDG 7 Tracking Report shows, key progress has been made. However, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, 2.8 billion people were still without access to clean cooking fuels and 789 million people had no access to electricity (SDG 7 Tracking Report 2020). Only 28% of African health facilities have constant reliable access to energy. The danger of these numbers worsening is imminent, as the economic shock could delay investment in sustainable energy and the lack of financial resources could put additional pressure on the emerging off-grid sector. This could be a major setback for the entire DRE sector but, in particular, locally-based energy practitioners will struggle as they generally have no access to short-term public financial aid or loans to bridge the gap. These energy practitioners, ranging from small initiatives and NGOs to successful medium-sized companies, are WISIONS’ core partners.
Addressing that threat, the Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE) – of which we are a member – sets out in an open letter why it is crucial to “save a decade of energy access progress” and, together with others, called for action to create a roadmap for the DRE sector to survive and flourish in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
The picture is not wholly negative. There are reasons to believe that the crisis could give sustainable energy the boost it needs. In fact, off-grid energy solutions could make the Global South more resilient against this and future crises, with off-grid electrification paying an important role. There is already evidence in this crisis of communities and public services with independent renewable energy systems having an advantage over communities without such systems: “the more remote with DRE, the better prepared”. Our partners in Colombia are an example of this.
Another positive aspect that we have observed is increased online interest and a push for active online exchange within the practitioner networks that are supported by WISIONS. This points to the possibility that this lockdown may lead to a reflection on findings and the development of joint innovative solutions.
Examples underlining the positive aspects include the announcement by Nigeria of a financial fund for the off-grid electrification of national health centres and the introduction of several energy access relief funds for Sub-Saharan Africa (a list can be found on the Energypedia webpage). This kind of support is badly needed, as demonstrated by a survey conducted among East African solar SMEs, which found they are in urgent need of financial support to sustain them over the crisis. In view of the magnitude of the crisis, we think the current measures might not be sufficient. The need to increase the funds available was stressed by ARE in their recent call for action and open letter for crowding in financial resources for the Energy Access Relief Fund.
The COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly adding to the challenges we face in achieving SDG 7 – but a crisis is also an opportunity for learning how to respond better in the future to other crises. One key path to supporting communities in the Global South to become more resilient is the deployment of decentralised renewable energy systems – ideally constructed and run by local energy practitioners to ensure long-term sustainability. These could lead to improved delivery of health services, food security and other basic needs, both in the short and long term (read this discussion paper by our colleagues at the Wuppertal Institute, which stresses the need to keep the long-term goals in mind).
To conclude, the sustainable energy movement is facing a number of additional challenges due to COVID-19 and it is encouraging to see that some measures are being taken to tackle these challenges. Indeed, this could be the momentum necessary for forging ahead with sustainable and renewable energy solutions, if the impetus can be matched by the high levels of funding required. The WISIONS initiative has been in existence for 16 years and, in that time, our experiences in the field have identified that the empowerment of local energy practitioners and communities in the Global South to develop locally-tailored strategies is a key factor in driving progress. This know-how could help fight the crisis and get meeting SDG 7 back on track, ensuring that no-one is left behind.
For further information, IISD, IGC and the OECD provide excellent summaries on impacts and associated policy strategies.