On 27 October 2022, ACCESS Coalition in partnership with Wuppertal Institute, WISIONS of Sustainability, held a one-hour digital seminar on Drawing Economic Benefits from the Use of Energy. The seminar was the third part of a webinar series focussing on maximizing the impacts from Energy Access.

The digital seminar explored how energy access projects can create opportunities. The session was moderated by Dr.Willington Ortiz, Researcher at Wuppertal Institute. Expert speakers shared their field experiences, tools and insights that help practitioners to understand and deploy successful productive use of energy.

Luciana Proietti, Co-founder and President of 500RPM, highlighted how her organization implemented three projects in Argentina. The projects were on the productive use of wind energy, in the context of horticulture production in collaboration with National Institute of Agricultural Technology Argentina (INTA).

The organization has extensive expertise in installing holistic wind energy systems. The 350 W wind turbine in the pilot installation powers a water pump, which aids in the collection of water into reservoirs, from which a drip irrigation system is channelled to farms.

The project, is locally dubbed, ‘strawberries into wind’ where local farmers initially grew strawberries for local markets in the first season. By focusing on one crop provided the advantage of allowing larger harvest output, better market prices, and higher profit margins. The installation of the wind turbines is accompanied by technical training on how to construct and maintain the machines, so that communities can run the new system independently.

With the help of this project, wind energy will be used effectively to provide rural farmers in remote areas with access to energy, water and a means of increasing their revenue through the production and sale of horticultural farm products.

Lessons from Kenya

Victor Gathogo, Energy Advisor at SNV, shared lessons from the organization’s implementation of the Accelerating Access for Productive Use of Energy (PUE) initiative with assistance from the EnDev Programme.

The initiative promotes accessibility to energy goods and services, including solar-powered equipment suitable for productive usage in commercial settings, while fostering a supportive climate of the same enterprises. As a result of the project, 1.6 million people were able to access cleaner energy solutions.

Although, they have promoted the productive use of energy appliances which have empowered Kenyans, it is easy to overlook the economic opportunities of other equipments. SNV are promoting 40+ categories of appliances, especially those that empower rural households.

Victor recognized the gains made to make PUE sector productive in Kenya, such as change of policies and regulations and what needs to be done for more uptake, “there has been an increased uptake of clean energy in Kenya, but more needs to be done to make it productive,” he said.

A new definition of Productive use of Energy

Temitope Udo-Affia, the Technical Assistance Coordinator for Off-Grid Regulation and Market Development at GET.transform, presented on Productive use 2.0, new scaling opportunities and innovations in the sector. This was a study published by GET.transform as part of a wider series on Energy for rural industrialisation. This is where cases are made for a shift away from PUE as an input to electrification, but rather as its own objective and input into economic development and rural industrialisation.

GET.transform works on supporting national and regional partners in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. They usually focus on the power sector as the key enabler for energy transformation.

She reiterated that a new definition of Productive Use of Energy (PUE) is needed to enable large scale deployment.

She highlighted some of the barriers hindering upscaling PUE approaches include; lack of flexible finance instruments, end user uptake barriers such as high cost of upfront equipment and low affordability, limited demand and poor market linkages, technical and capacity challenges and lack of cross-sectoral approaches.

The speakers recommended increased innovative finance from the private sector, and strong coordination with Technical and Vocational Education and training (TVET) institutions that play a key role in the development of clean energy use.

Watch the recorded digital seminar