IEEE’s Empower A Billion Lives Competition Names Global Final Recipients

International teams developing the world’s most innovative solutions to extreme energy poverty

IEEE’s Empower A Billion Lives Competition Names Global Final Recipients

Photo Left to right –  Global Lead Malcolm Cosrove-Davies, Principle Investigator Dr. Jayendran Venkateswaran, Chair Deepak Divan

2 October 2019  – Baltimore, MD – Twenty-three teams from around the world have been competing in the IEEE Power Electronics Empower a Billion Lives (EBL) Global Final competition to identify and promote cutting-edge, high-impact solutions to extreme poverty and lack of access to energy in the developing world. 

The recipients presented their solutions at the IEEE Power Electronics Society (PELS) Energy Access Workshop, hosted by the IEEE Energy Conversion Congress Exposition, a workshop dedicated to bringing together the Energy Access Community that is rising out of the efforts of initiatives like EBL.

The EBL competition was launched in 2018 as a biennial global event to help teams around the world develop energy access solutions that could provide economically viable and scalable solutions for communities with average incomes of lower than US$2 per day. It was felt that regional teams would know their community needs and be able to offer viable solutions to improve their productivity and livelihood. Starting with 475 registered teams, 82 teams progressed to compete in one of five regional rounds held in Pacific Asia, South Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas where 23 teams were selected to field-test their solutions and compete in the Global Final. 

The competition was conceptualized by the IEEE Power Electronics Society and its volunteers and staff, with strong support from many regional sponsors and for the Global Final the sponsors include, Kehua Technologies, On Semiconductors, Southern Company, Vicor, Sungrow Technology, Texas Instruments and partners, The Center for Distributed Energy at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the IEEE Foundation

Global Steering Chair, Deepak Divan found that “the teams have shown important and viable solutions based on a foundation of power electronics technology that can have a big impact, some of the technology solutions pose technology challenges that have not been fully addressed.” Further, IEEE Power Electronics President Frede Blaabjerg stated, “many of these solutions are addressing critical humanitarian challenges that good technology solutions can meaningfully solve. Taking these technical and business solutions to market so that economically viable models can be developed to address those living in energy poverty is at the heart of a new brand of sustainable entrepreneurship where we can have a big sustainable impact.”

Regional recipient teams received a total of US$225,000 and today’s US$215,000 in prizes were awarded to the following teams:

Grand Prize US$100,000 went to SoULS Initiative, IIT Bombay for their solution; Solar Urja through Localization for Sustainability

Track prizes are divided into two categories, centralized and decentralized and two subcategories, commercial and emergent.

Centralized Emergent Prize US$30,000 went to Entrepreneurs du Monde and Okra for their solution to support people’s own entrepreneurial ventures and giving them access to products that can bring significant health, economic and environmental benefits.

Decentralized Emergent Prize US$30,000 went to SolarWorX for designing and manufacturing the next generation of solar pay-as-you-go solutions sold on a B2B basis

Centralized Commercial Prize US$30,000 went to Havenill Synergy for using solar energy to generate clean, safe, cost-effective and sustainable electricity in rural and urban Nigeria.

The Best Decentralized Commercial track team won the Grand Prize.

The Best Student Team Prize US$20,000 went to Reeddi for sustainably provides clean energy and allied innovations at a price point that individuals and businesses operating in energy-poor regions of the world can afford.

An additional prize was awarded to Xpower for The Best Base of the Pyramid Solution for designing, building, and operating next-generation solar microgrids for rural electrification. Combining mains AC and low voltage DC, these grids are optimized for cost, yet designed to scale with users’ needs over time.

Two teams received an honorable mention: Connex Solar (previously Smart-Grids Lab), for developing plug-and-play smart DC network controllers for a bottom-up electrification in the Developing World; and, Simusolar for providing farmers and fishers with the IoT-enabled tools they need to improve productivity and income.

To see the solutions of all the teams competing in the Global Final, read more.

The next round of IEEE PELS Empower a Billion Lives will begin in 2021. To find out more about the overall competition, read more.

To support the efforts and lend your name to the growing Energy Access Community dedicated to Empowering a Billion Lives, read more.

About IEEE

IEEE is the world’s largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. Through its highly cited publications, conferences, technology standards, and professional and educational activities, IEEE is the trusted voice in a wide variety of areas ranging from aerospace systems, computers, and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power, and consumer electronics. Read More. 

About The IEEE Power Electronics Society

The IEEE Power Electronics Society has over 30 years of facilitating and guiding the development and innovation in the control of electrical power for a wide variety of consumer, commercial, industrial, utility, transportation, and renewable energy applications.

Media Contact: Jane Celusak