IEEE Foundation Awards US $1.2 Million to Smart Village Initiative

The money will support seven off-grid energy projects on four continents

20 February 2018

IEEE Smart Village received US $1.2 million in funding for selected sustainable energy projects expected to impact nearly 7 million people worldwide.

The IEEE Foundation awarded the funds in December to the priority initiative, which partners with entrepreneurs in underserved areas to set up microutilities, bringing electricity to thousands while also creating jobs in the community. The group aspires to provide electricity to 50 million people by 2025.

The recipients are from Cameroon, India, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, and Uganda. They were chosen based on the feasibility of their proposed microgrid projects, their plan for how to grow their business, the ability to leverage the funding to sustain their project over the long term, how they’ll incorporate educational programs to teach locals about the technology, and the potential for their program to assist at least 1 million people in five years.

Here are the seven projects:


This nonprofit organization in Denver focuses on increasing the number of female entrepreneurs in rural Uganda. It trains the entrepreneurs how to install and operate solar-powered equipment such as an irrigation system that pumps water through pipes equipped with solar cells. The cells absorb the solar energy and convert it to electricity. The project also aims to increase production of the country’s burgeoning mushroom industry, which will provide steady income for farmers, according to a news release.


This for-profit renewable energy solutions and technology developer, in Lagos, plans to provide solar-powered microgrids to 11 communities, power a grain mill, and help create jobs.


In partnership with nonprofit Rotary International in Papua New Guinea, the program plans to install solar microgrids to power community centers that offer educational programs to adults. The centers also will provide business owners with resources including management training and courses on how to create their own website, organizers say. The grids will power a medical clinic and childbirth center, they say. The program also plans to supply portable battery kits so community members can charge their lamps.


This project is slated to be implemented in two phases in six cities. The first phase will use SunBlazer solar trailers developed by IEEE Smart Village that provided low-cost, reliable electricity to survivors of the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, organizers say. The trailers have a mixed-grid approach. The first grid supplies 24-volt DC for low-voltage lighting and DC charging. The second phase involves installing an AC line to the center of each village to power small businesses and phone-charging booths. The second phase will increase the capacity of the first solar microgrid by 170 percent and will assist 14 schools, more than 50 businesses, and about 11,000 people in the area, according to the news release.


This program from a for-profit company in New Delhi aims to provide portable battery kits and an AC microgrid to power homes, schools, and businesses in remote villages.


The organization, based in Lajolo, in Kwara state, installed an 8.5-kilowatt solar microgrid in December. It is powering a school and the freezer at a general store as well as an irrigation system. To learn about the power industry, engineering students at the Kwara State University, in Malete, and at the University of Ilorin helped install the microgrid.


The nonprofit, headquartered in O’Fallon, Mo., plans to improve food security and dramatically reduce greenhouse gases associated with burning kerosene. Installing solar electricity in Cameroon’s rural villages can automate farming practices including irrigation and grain crushing. Torchbearer also plans to fund a power plant to provide electricity to a transportable food processor, grain crusher, and oil press. Women are the primary farmers in the area, and automating farming chores could save them time so they can pursue educational opportunities, according to the news release.

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