Digitalization is a key factor for increased energy access, higher integration of renewable energy and improved quality of service from power utilities, particularly in developing countries. Launched in December 2019, the Digital Energy Facility, which is financed by the European Union and implemented by the AFD, supports the modernization of the energy sector in this region.
The Digital Energy Challenge is one of the pillars of the program, issuing awards every year to project owners, start-ups and power utilities, for innovation in the energy sector. “It is essential to encourage synergies in the energy transition ecosystem between young, innovative players and large public power companies to harmonize technologies and share expertise,” said Cyril Renault, Energy Project Manager at the Agence française de développement (AFD).
Sub-Saharan Africa, where energy access problems are common, was in the spotlight for this first edition. The list of award winners was announced on November 25 at the Digital Energy Challenge Bootcamp. Held at the AFD head office in Paris, the event brought together the challenge winners, project partners and external experts.
Towards universal, sustainable energy access
Six themes were chosen to attract owners of innovative projects that offer solutions for issues in the energy sector. Start-ups could submit projects that modernize the networks, provide clean energy solutions for SMEs or offer new and/or innovative solutions for energy companies.
To be eligible, public power utilities were duty bound to apply in partnership with an innovative technology and/or service provider. Projects had to address issues such as universal energy access, the improvement of grid management and quality of service, or high-rate renewable energy integration.
For the first edition of the Challenge, 171 applications were received from start-ups and 29 from public power utilities in partnership with an innovative technology and/or service provider. “The projects were of a very high quality. We are very pleased to see so many different innovative solutions that could support energy transition in the region” said Nicolas Guichard, Head of AFD’s Energy unit.
To support the launch and implementation of their projects, winners will benefit from grant-based funding and technical assistance. An annual budget from the European Union of €1.5M will enable the implementation of these innovative solutions.
The next edition of the Challenge will be launched at the beginning of 2022.
The content of this publication falls under the sole responsibility of the AFD and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the European Union.
This project is carried out with the support of the European Union