Renewable Energy

Empower a Billion Lives with the IEEE Power Electronics Society

Empower a Billion Lives is a competition sponsored by the IEEE Power Electronics Society that seeks to unleash innovation through the development and demonstration of new regionally relevant, holistic, scalable, and economically viable solutions by leveraging 21st-century technologies which feature exponentially declining prices and have shown rapid global adoption.

Registration is open now. The competition includes five regional rounds in India, Africa, China, Europe, and the Americas followed by a Global Final. The competition is agnostic to energy sources, technologies, business models, and will primarily evaluate potential impact and ability to rapidly and sustainably scale the solutions to a Billion customers. Energy access is a global challenge.

There are 3 billion people in the world living in energy poverty, and over 1 billion people without any access to electricity. So far, only 1.8 million people have gained tier 2 energy access by using off-grid electric services.

To address energy poverty, more of the same may not be the answer. New strategies are needed to scale energy access solutions 1000x.

Solutions must provide Tier 2 energy access (200+ watt hours per day), which includes:

  1. Household uses – Household uses include: single house lighting, phone charging, telecommunication, entertainment, air circulation, refrigeration, water pumping, home cooling, smart cooking, electric two- and three-wheeler charging, etc.
  2. Community uses – Community uses include: multiple home solutions for public lighting, water pumping & purification, education and health facilities, etc.
  3. Productive uses – Productive uses include: agriculture processing, light manufacturing (sewing, pottery, weaving, carpentry), construction, food processing, commerce, new incoming opportunities, etc.


Energy access means opportunity

Access to electricity is critical to health care delivery and to the overarching goal of universal health coverage. The WHO defines access to essential medicines and technologies as one of the key factors in ensuring universal health coverage. Most of these essential technologies require electricity, and without electricity, many health care interventions simply cannot be provided. Despite this, a study found that only 26% of health facilities in the Sub-Saharan Africa has access to reliable electricity.

Registration for participant teams will begin in May 2018. Student Teams, Research Laboratories, Small and Medium-sized Companies, International Corporations, Nonprofit Organizations, etc., are all encouraged to participate.

Empower a Billion Lives Time Line:

  • Online round – May 1, 2018 to Aug 31, 2018; Registered teams present their solution concept and a three-minute pitch video.
  • Regional rounds – Nov 2018 to Jan 2019; Qualified teams demonstrate their solution prototypes and pitch their business ideas at a regional round nearest to them.
  • Field test – Qualified teams complete a 3 month long field pilot in a region of their choosing.
  • Global final – Sep 29, 2019 to Oct 3, 2019; IEEE ECCE Conference, Qualified teams demonstrate the ruggedized prototypes, field test results, and final business plan.
IEEE Empower a Billion Lives
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