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Open Energy Access

Author: The EnAccess Foundation

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This show focuses on what’s happening in the Energy Access sector in terms of development, innovation, successes, and failures. Talking about our common challenges in an open and transparent way is something that we think should be more public in this space - so let's get the conversation started.
4 Episodes
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Today I'm going to be talking with Camille André-Bataille, the CEO of ANKA Madagascar, about an idea for a new business model called AgriGrid - the idea of pairing access to electricity with local agricultural sectors. The AgriGrid business model refers to a hybrid organization that combines commercial opportunities in rural electrification with food & agricultural value chain development. The idea is that beyond providing electricity, an AgriGrid operator would also play an active role in developing rural food & agricultural market activity. There’s so much to explore about this idea and how to integrate energy services with agriculture - ranging from a mini-grid company that acts as a services provider to existing agricultural intermediaries, or going all the way through to a fully integrated agribusiness that grows, processes, packages, and retails its own food products – in addition to selling electricity to the community. The AgriGrid concept was created by ANKA Madagascar and Amanhã Ventures, and the EnAccess Foundation is proud to have supported this open source R&D project. All the materials can be found at enaccess.org/agrigrid. 
Anyone that is selling a pay as you go device or service should know about the OpenPAYGO Token. When PAYGO technology arrived in the energy access sector, it was a game-changer. By paying small amounts of money over a longer time period, families could afford better quality and safer lighting, phone charging, and much more. But there was a frustrating problem that emerged - the integration of PAYGO into energy access products was being controlled by a handful of companies, and each company had their own closed system. Think about it like this - a distributor of solar home systems would have a box containing solar panels, a battery pack, wires, etc. This product would work exactly the same no matter who purchased it, but the distributor would have to have one supply of boxes with PAYGO technology A, one supply with PAYGO technology B, and another supply with PAYGO technology C. The frustration was felt  by both the sellers and makers of energy access products all over the world, and was (and is) an industry-wide issue. What we're talking about today with Benjamin David (CTO, Solaris Offgrid) is the big-picture solution that Solaris Offgrid designed. They took on the task of creating one free, open source, industry-standard solution called the OpenPAYGO Token. It can easily integrate with already-existing PAYGO platforms and is available for any manufacturer to implement in new devices as well. 
Today we’re going to talk about a really cool open source hardware solution with Damian Veling, the CTO of Okra Solar - this episode is definitely going to be more interesting for the engineers and developers out there, though anyone working in the IoT space will find the conversation interesting. Okra is an Australian technology startup based in Cambodia. They work with local utilities to transform offgrid communities into energy abundant microgrid economies. One of the big reasons why millions of households all over the world still don’t have energy access infrastructure is because it’s physically hard to reach a lot of these places, which is why Okra relies on remotely monitoring the communities they service. But to be able to work like this means there needs to be some sort of data or wifi connectivity in the village - but connectivity is also a real challenge in some of the more remote areas of the world.How to solve this very common and very real issue of connectivity in hard to reach areas? That’s what we’re going to talk about on today's show. Okra’s solution is called Cicada, an open source IoT Communications Module for Energy Access. Damian solved a really big problem that a lot of other energy access companies will be able to relate to - if you have been struggling with a solution for connectivity in your own IoT space, you’re going to want to listen closely: Cicada can be the solution that reduces your time to market, which can allow you to get back to work on the real problem you are solving.EnAccess is proud to have all the open source materials published online. So if you’re ready to dig into the code and the documentation, or read the story behind the project, head over to https://enaccess.org/projects/- you’ll find everything you need there. If you have any questions, comments, or tweaks for the code, we want to hear from you! You can visit https://www.okrasolar.com/ to send a message directly to the developers.If you have an idea for a project that could be beneficial to the broader energy access sector, head to https://enaccess.org/ and submit your application today. 
The EnAccess Foundation is proud to present the first episode of a new podcast, Open Energy Access. The EnAccess Foundation is passionate about open source solutions, efficiency, and transparency in energy access. In this episode, we discuss the first project that we published - a Survey Toolkit that was developed by Devergy, a company that operates solar mini-grids in rural Tanzania.But first, we cover the basics: Tamara Mahoney, head of marketing at EnAccess, explains the big picture issues that the energy access industry is working to solve. Rahul Barua, one of the co-founders, explains why EnAccess was started and what we do.Next, we get into the project. We're joined by Gianluca Cescon, a co-founder of Devergy, to talk details about the project and what it means for the industry. The conversation includes some great learning experiences, tips, and the story of how an early mistake resulted in a successful (yet quite different than originally planned) project.Finally, we discuss the realities of innovating in energy access, open source solutions, and and how we can all learn from each other. We've never produced a podcast before, but are hopeful that bringing some of these behind-the-scenes conversations to the public will inspire new thinking and help new organizations or entrepreneurs.
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