Kenya is a first in many a renewable energy innovation. The country houses a number of solar-energy innovations that touch on, among other sectors, agriculture and the retail sector. Agriculture, being the backbone of the Kenyan economy, and an employer of 75% or thereabouts of the entire country’s workforce, remains an important sector in the country. The IEA observes that by 2050, solar energy could be the top source of electricity, generating up to 16% of the world's electricity - Kenya is certainly not an exception to these statistics.
Living off the grid, without access to stable electricity, carries consequences beyond simply not being able to switch on the lights at night. In hospitals and clinics across developing regions, the inability to rely on electricity — or a complete lack thereof — translates into profound shortcomings in the provision of life-saving treatments. William Steel interviewed Julia Römer for Cleanleap, Julia co-founded Coolar in 2014, with the goal to develop a better solution for off-grid refrigeration of medical supplies.
Intasave, a not-for-profit and environmental enterprise is planning to use scalable nanogrid solar power systems to bring clean, reliable and affordable power to about 500 communities and 250,000 people in Kenya, South Africa and Mozambique within three years. After raising the initial US$100,000 through crowdfunding, construction of the hubs is already underway in villages in Kenya.
Smallholder farming is primarily characterized by differentially low incomes, in particular the poor sub-Saharan African farmers. Closely tied to this are the high proportion of farmers income spent on their energy needs, both at the domestic and crop-production level. There is essentially a correlation between income levels and access to clean modern energy. In Kenya, the energy situation could be getting better, with a social enterprise that invests in an end-to-end solution for smallholder farmers, Takamoto Biogas is tackling the fundamental global problems of deforestation and climate change.
The World Banks off grid solar initiative, Lighting Global, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance have recently launched the third publication of its type – an in depth analysis of the trends for 2016 global off grid solar power market. The report examines a relatively new market and provides valuable insights into the rapid technological changes to ensure low cost, clean electricity for all. The report highlights the key driving concern that over 1.2 billion people lack access to the power grid, which means they spend around $27 billion on expensive fossil fuel based technology.
In Northern Upper East Ghana, a water conservation technology is enabling about 400 smallholder farmers from 10 communities to farm in dry seasons. As a result they are now getting at least two crop seasons annually as opposed to one, after implementing the PAVE irrigation Technology which harvests flood and rain water, and stores it in underground aquifers where it lasts for up to 180 days.
In Rwanda, a ‘Pico-hydro’ refers to a power system with a capacity less than 50kW. Their advantage over other power systems is their cost-effectiveness and simplicity, and come in different designs, planning and installation processes. It is an economical source of power that has proven useful in delivering clean energy to some of the world’s poorest and most remote places.
Whether they are consumed as grains or flour they are always products in high demand in Africa - these being cereals such maize, sorghum, millet and wheat. One of the issues with these widely consumed crops is when people want to grind them and consume them as flour, with most remote areas lacking access to electricity and therefore use expensive fossil fuel to run milling machines.
Better housing is one of the key indicators of the economic development, but most developing countries still have a challenge to secure clean homes for their habitants. Dirt floors are often responsible up to 80 percent of diseases. In most cases, parasites live in soil in form of feces and bacteria that can be contagious by either absorption or a simple contact. EarthEnable has introduced a solution to all those problems.
The Croton tree, which is commonly known as Mukinduri in Eastern and Central part of Kenya, is now a good known source of biofuels and that is being practiced. It grows in a challenging environment and unlike jatropha and palm, it won't bring food and fuel competition. It has no chemical additives and burns cleaner than traditional diesel fuel, with no sulfuric content. It can save our environment from carbon emissions and help in better land usage.
Many companies use traditional methods to measure the impact of solar power investments such as quoting the many dollars invested, number of people using their kits and areas covered by their product, which are inadequate tools for measuring social impact for solar power investments if we have to get it right. Traditional approaches of gathering data are not only expensive, take time to give results and complicated to use, but are also not helpful in terms of boosting solar power funding. The lean data approach proposed by Acumen could, not only bridge solar power funding gaps in developing worlds, but will also help companies to understand emerging markets.
Research undertaken by Greentech Media (GTM) predicts that over the next five years, the global solar market will demonstrate a cumulative average growth rate of around 8%, with emerging economies including India and Latin America leading the progress.