Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development initiative - Winners

From energypedia


Powering Agriculture Grand Energy Challenge for Development utilizes the financial and technical resources of its partners to promote new ideas and innovation at the point where clean energy and agriculture intersect—the clean energy/ agriculture nexus.

In it's inaugural round in 2013, more than 475 organizations from 80 countries applied to the Powering Agriculture Grand Energy Challenge for Development, offering market-based, clean energy innovations for the agricultural sphere in developing countries. The 2nd Powering Agriculture Call for Innovation in 2015 even received 871 applications.

The innovations of the winners can be broadly categorized into applications for processing, irrigation, decentralized power, and cold storage.


Biomass-Powered Thermal Processing of Ethiopian Bamboo
African Bamboo Ethiopia 2013
African Bamboo is developing an environmentally friendly bamboo thermal modification process, involving the combustion of biomass dust.

Hybrid Vehicles with Exportable Power for Community-Based Agriculture Mechanization
Motivo Enegineering India 2013
Motivo Engineering is developing hybrid vehicles with exportable power for community-based agriculture mechanization. The system utilizes power from varied energy sources such as solar panels, wind turbines, etc. to enable increased productivity all along the agriculture value chain.

Improving Coffee Production and Quality Using Infrared Technology
Horn of Africa Regional Environment Center and Network – Ethiopia 2015
The proposed solution by Horn of Africa uses state of the art infrared technology to reduce coffee pulp drying time from several days to hours. Converting waste products from coffee production into useful energy reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Solar Agro-Processing Power Stations
Village Infrastructure Angels – Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Vanuata 2015
VIA plans to install solar mills in villages in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines and Vanuata. Use of solar mills will increase productivity for rural farmers, while decreasing the amount of manual processing required.

Field Evaluation of a Passive Aeration System for Aquaculture
Governing Council of the University of Toronto' Bangladesh 2015 
The project proposes a new aeration method. The system will allow for increased density of fish stock by using heat that is captured through a solar thermal absorber plate to improve water quality.

Decentralized Power

Building Markets for Efficient Biomass Power Provision
Camco Advisory Services – Tanzania, 2013
Camco's Village Industrial Power (VIP) Plants - mini-grid systems powered through the combustion of biomass waste - generate energy for use in a diverse range of agricultural activities.

Smart Grid on Main Street: Electricity and Value-added Processing for Agricultural Goods
EarthSpark International – USA 2013
EarthSpark has developed a solar-diesel hybrid micro-grid system that will increase access to affordable, reliable electricity for value-added agricultural processing.

Private Sector Financed Community Solar Microgrids and Agricultural Accelerators
Universidad del Valle de Guatemala – Guatemala 2015
UVG uses an innovative approach to developing low-cost community utility companies. The project will provide access to clean energy to operate irrigation systems and cold storage facilities.

Renewable Microgrids for Off-Grid Fish Hatcheries and Surrounding Communities
International Development Enterprises – Bangladesh 2015
The proposed solution by iDE will replace diesel generation so that the system will power hatchery water pumping activities and provide household-level renewable power through an innovative metering technology.

Powering Agriculture with Renewable Energy
Ariya Capital Group Ltd – Kenya 2015
Ariya’s project will provide end to end cost-effective, low-risk renewable energy generation and energy efficiency services to local flower and horticulture farms in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.

Biomass and Solar PV Hybrid Minigrids for Off-Grid Farming Communities
Husk Power Systems – India 2015
Husk Power will install a hybrid solution that combines a biomass gasification system with a solar PV system. The system will power a mini-grid that produces electricity for residential, as well as agricultural, needs. .


A Hydroponic Green Farming Initiative
ECO Consult - Jordan 2013
ECO Consult has developed an integrated model of hydroponic and photovoltaic farming to compete with conventional greenhouse technology and drip irrigation systems.   

Micro-Solar Utilities for Small-Scale Irrigation
The Earth Institute at Columbia University – USA 2013
Earth Institute’s solution will enable farmers to use a central solar energy unit to power multiple AC pumps for irrigation - taking
advantage of the benefits of solar without the high costs associated with DC-powered pumps and battery storage.

Solar-Powered Pumps for Improved Irrigation
International Development Enterprises – USA 2013

iDE’s universal piston pump can compete with fossil fuel pumps both in terms of cost and enhancing agricultural productivity.

Low-Cost Pay-Per-Use Irrigation Using Solar Trolley Systems
Claro Energy – India, 2015
Claro Energy intends to offer a pay-per-use irrigation service that uses a portable solar pump. The project will enable farmers to irrigate larger amounts of farmland, increase production during the summer season, and invest funds saved on the purchase of diesel in more efficient technologies.

Affordable, High-Performance Solar Irrigation for Smallholder Farmers
KickStart International – Kenya, 2015
KickStart is developing a clean energy solution in form of a flat pack solar irrigation pump
that is easy for farmers to install.

PV-Integrated Drip Irrigation and Fertigation Systems
Institute for University Cooperation (ICU) – Jordan/Lebanon 2015
ICU will install a drip irrigation system powered by PV solar energy at pilot farms. The project will provide energy savings, as farmers will rely on photovoltaic systems for their irrigation energy needs, taking advantage of the 300+ sunny days in their areas.

Scaling the Distribution of Tailored Agro-Solar Irrigation Kits to Smallholder Farmers
SunCulture – Kenya 2015
SunCulture combines cost-effective solar pumping technology with a high-efficiency drip irrigation system to make it cheaper and easier for farmers to grow. The project will take place in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Sunflower Pump: Asset-Financed Solar Irrigation Pumps for Smallholder Farmers
Futurepump – Kenya 2015
Futurepump enhanced an easy-to-maintain solar irrigation pump. All benefits will have a major impact on women, particularly because of the reduction in labor burden that mechanization will bring.

Cold Storage

SunChill: Solar Cooling for Horticultural Preservation
Rebound Technology – USA 2013
SunChill is a novel, off-grid refrigeration solution enabling increased agricultural productivity by: (i) removing field heat from crops immediately following harvest, (ii) providing continued product cooling at local markets/central processing facilities.

Reducing Milk Spoilage through Solar Powered Milk Chilling
Promethean Power Systems – USA 2013
Promethean’s refrigeration solution uses a thermal energy battery pack that charges on solar power and/or a few hours of grid electricity. This provides cold storage around the clock despite inconsistent access to electricity.

SunChill: Solar-Powered Refrigeration for Kenyan Dairy Farms
SunDanzer Refrigeration – USA 2013
Recognizing the need for affordable cold-chain technologies, SunDanzer is developing a small-scale portable cooling system tailored for use in the Kenyan dairy market.

Biogas-Powered Evaporative Cooling for Uganda’s Dairy Industry
University of Georgia Research Foundation – USA 2013
UGARF has developed a refrigeration unit powered on biogas - which is extracted from cow manure. The unit regenerates zeolite plates, which retain their capacity to capture water vapor from the evaporative milk chilling process.

Biogas Milk Chilling to Increase Productivity and Incomes of Dairy Farmers
SimGas Tanzania, Ltd. – Tanzania 2015
SimGas is developing the first off-grid, biogaspowered milk chiller at farm level to help milk supply meet demand. The quantity and quality of milk will improve, which will enable dairies to better meet the increasing demand for milk and milk products.

Further Information


  • Powering Agriculture Team