ASU and IRENA empower Pacific Island entrepreneurs to expand access to clean and affordable solar energy

28 November 2013| Articles

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and Arizona State University (ASU) today launched the “Solar Energy Systems Entrepreneurship Training” in the Pacific Islands.

The two institutions signed a project agreement in July 2013 to jointly build capacity in the Pacific Islands for the deployment of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, a fast-growing form of renewable energy with excellent potential for providing energy security and economic development.

The one-day training is comprised of intensive and interactive training modules tailored for existing business owners as well as future entrepreneurs in the growing business segment of solar energy in Solomon Islands. A similar training will be held in Vanuatu in early December. Participants are taken on an interactive journey of starting up a solar energy business. Topics include startup financing, licensing and registration for developing and growing a sustainable business, and recognizing opportunities and maneuvering potential risks and challenges. Best practices and examples of case studies from around the world will be presented and discussed during the training.

The objective is to immediately increase the operational effectiveness of existing renewable energy business owners and provide a hands-on guidance to successfully start-up and grow a solar energy business, particularly targeting rural areas with low access to electricity, where solar power could replace kerosene for lighting.

The global expenditure on kerosene reaches up to USD 40bn annually, mostly for lighting which is often hazardous and of poor quality. In the Pacific Islands, kerosene is the main source of lighting in rural areas. In Solomon Islands, less than 16% of the population is connected to the grid, and up to 79% of rural households use kerosene for basic lighting purposes. Similarly in Vanuatu, only about 30% of the country has access to the electricity grid, where only 11% of rural households are electrified. Many households spend in average between $US2 and $US5 per week on kerosene. By replacing kerosene, modern solar lanterns can typically be paid off in less than four to six months and smaller solar home systems in less than two years.

It is expected that the entrepreneurs will be able to facilitate and expand sales of affordable and reliable solar energy systems that would provide lighting and mobile phone charging at a competitive price to kerosene. Entrepreneurs will be introduced to varying business models and will also be guided to sources of startup financing within their region.

Note to editors:

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is mandated as the global hub for renewable energy cooperation and information exchange by 118 Members (117 States and the European Union). Over 43 additional countries are in the accession process and actively engaged. Formally established in 2011, IRENA is the first global intergovernmental organisation to be headquartered in the Middle East.
IRENA supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, and serves as the principal platform for international cooperation, a centre of excellence, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy. IRENA promotes the widespread adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy, including bioenergy, geothermal, hydropower, ocean, solar and wind energy in the pursuit of sustainable development, energy access, energy security and low-carbon economic growth and prosperity. Please visit IRENA website for more information.

Arizona State University (ASU) has developed a new model for the American Research University, creating an institution that is committed to excellence, access and impact. ASU measures itself by those it includes, not by those it excludes. ASU pursues research that contributes to the public good, and ASU assumes major responsibility for the economic, social and cultural vitality of the communities that surround it. ASU today enrolls more than 75,000 students on four campuses in metropolitan Phoenix, maintaining a tradition of academic excellence in core disciplines while gaining recognition as an important global center for innovative interdisciplinary research. The University champions diversity, and aggressively recruits and admits minority students. Please visit ASU website for more information.

The College of Technology & Innovation (CTI) at ASU is making a new higher education experience, which focuses on learning through making things and solving real-world challenges through collaboration.

Jessi Hibsman (Arizona State University): 
Timothy Hurst: