Mitsubishi Tomini

Frank C. Lambert, PES President-Elect

IEEE EMPOWER A BILLION LIVES

GRAND CHALLENGE:  REACHING GLOBAL SCALE IN ENERGY ACCESS

Our Sister Society, PELS, is sponsoring a Grand Challenge to develop solutions for meeting the basic energy needs of the 1.1 billion people living completely off-grid. Energy poverty severely impacts their living standard, health and productivity, and limits their digital/financial inclusion into society. Our Georgia Tech PES Student Branch Chapter travelled to Haiti in 2016 to install a PV system for a Medical Center off the grid in the mountains.  They are planning on returning at the end of this semester to continue the work by setting up businesses to install hut level PV systems and are planning to participate in this EBL competition.

We are at a unique point in time when fast moving technologies are showing exponential increases in performance coupled with a continuous decline in prices. While these innovations have changed our lives in the developed world, the impact in the area of energy poverty has been much more limited. Market leaders in the energy sector have struggled to cope with these continuous disruptions, and with formulating business models that are economically viable in serving those living in energy poverty. A continuous wave of technology, business and financial innovation that rides on these exponential trends is needed, along with a deep involvement of the communities that are impacted.

IEEE Empower a Billion Lives is a recurring global competition (first winners in 2019) focused on harnessing global innovation and creativity along common metrics to create a continuous pipeline of solutions that are regionally relevant, scalable and technically as well as economically viable. Ongoing competition cycles will drive a continuous learning process that allows successive generations of competitors to leverage past learnings, adopt fast-moving new emerging technologies, and demonstrate these capabilities and impact in realistic environments. A primary focus for EBL is to reduce technology and market risk, and prove out new business models and pathways that ensure scale and impact can be achieved with solutions that are robust, reliable, economically viable and environmentally sustainable.

EBL requires a holistic approach using fast-moving 21st century technologies with exponentially declining prices (e.g. photovoltaic solar, energy storage, power electronics, Internet of Things, decentralized control, communications, cloud, edge-computing, cybersecurity, pay-as-you-go, mobile-wallets, blockchain, data analytics, etc.). Ongoing competition cycles will drive a continuous learning process that allows successive generations of competitors to leverage past learnings, adopt fast-moving new emerging technologies, and demonstrate these capabilities and impact in realistic environments.

The first competition will be staged with five regional rounds in Africa, China, Europe, India and the US in 2018/19 followed by a global final in the US in Sept 2019. The competition includes a 2-month field trial for every finalist in their chosen target market.

TARGET CUSTOMER GROUP

  • Off-grid or have access < 2 hours a day
  • Purchasing power below global poverty line (< $1.90/day)
  • > 90% live in rural areas
  • < 50% have bank accounts
  • < 50% have smart phones

WHO IS THIS COMPETITION FOR?

  • Student Branch Chapters
  • Student teams, Research laboratories
  • Small and medium-sized companies
  • International corporations
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Everyone!

COMPETITION TRACKS

  • EXISTING SOLUTIONS: Solutions that are already commercially available, meeting the electricity needs of the target customer group, and have radical scaling potential.
  • EMERGING SINGLE-USER SOLUTIONS: New solutions that meet minimum tier 2 needs of a single household in the target customer group.
  • EMERGING MULTI-USER SOLUTIONS: Solutions that meet minimum tier 2 needs of a community of users. These devices are expected to be able to create, interconnect and manage a grid (including market functions) from the bottom up.

COMPETITION TIMELINE

  1. ONLINE ROUND MAY-AUG 2018
  • Present solution concept
  • 5 minute pitch video
  • Business evaluation: Estimate value and costs
  • Technical evaluation: Present technology approach
  1. REGIONAL ROUNDS NOV 2018 – JAN 2019
  • Competition Expo
  • Business evaluation: Present business plan and scaling roadmap
  • Technical evaluation: Demonstrate prototype system and core function
  • Present field test plan
  1. GLOBAL ROUND SEPT 2019
  • Business evaluation: Show function at scale in real locations
  • Technical evaluation: Demonstration of ruggedized solution
  • Show economic viability, cyber & financial security

Register your organization to compete on www.empowerabillionlives.org

Frank C. Lambert
PES President Elect 2018