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A woman on Seachar's stove project in Costa Rica

Photograph courtesy Seattle Biochar Working Group

Innovative Energy Solutions

The Great Energy Challenge grant program, in collaboration with a distinguished group of scientists acting as the board of advisors , awarded grants to 34 organizations working in 22 countries around the world. Operating from 2010-2016, the goal of the grant program was to hasten the growth of promising, global energy solutions as a response to climate change, energy resource constraints and environmental limitations.

The grant program highlighted innovative efforts addressing these issues and sought to help leaders navigate the difficulties of early-stage entrepreneurship. The grant program had a global focus, yet aimed to highlight solutions for a specific country or community. These promising endeavors made strides toward alleviating energy poverty, developing new technology and/or identifying the greatest potential for large energy gains.

The Great Energy Challenge grant program provided support for the following grantees:

  • Picture of BioLite


    BioLite launched two products, HomeStove and NanoGrid, that generate low-cost, clean energy in India.

  • Picture of Rural Renewable Energy Alliance

    Rural Renewable Energy Alliance

    Rural Renewable Energy Alliance will demonstrate scalable, sustainable, community-based energy model to reduce and stabilize energy costs.

  • Picture of Nuru Energy

    Nuru Energy East Africa

    Nuru Energy plans to bring basic electricity to rural Rwanda by way of village-level entrepreneurship.

  • Evaptainer.jpg


    Evaptainers are the world's first mobile refrigeration systems requiring no electricity that are ideal for low-income, off-grid areas.

  • BRE-C.jpg

    Barpak Rural Electrification (BRE-C)

    BRE-C is helping rehabilitate and upgrade micro hydroelectric systems in the Gorkha District of Nepal.

  • Housing in Nigeria from Comprehensive Design Services

    Comprehensive Design Services

    Comprehensive Design Services provides affordable housing with renewable energy in Nigeria.

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    Takamoto Biogas

    Takamoto Biogas has created the world's first lease-to-own biogas product, a system using cow dung as a feedstock to produce gas for cooking purposes.

  • Briquettes.jpg


    Sanivation is using modern business principles and simple technologies to deliver energy and sanitation services to the urban poor.

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    Qorax Energy

    Qorax enables access to high-quality solar lanterns and home systems for low-income families using mobile payment plans.

  • elephant energy.jpg

    Elephant Energy

    Elephant is dedicated to helping small-scale solar beat out kerosene in Namibia and Zambia.

  • Bayalpata Hospital.jpg


    SunFarmer provides off-grid solar energy to community institutions in developing countries, primarily Nepal.

  • PEG Ghana.jpg

    PEG Ghana

    PEG Ghana is setting up a 24-hour call center to handle customer concerns and technical issues for its metered Pay As You Go solar home systems.

  • Carbon Roots International

    Carbon Roots International

    Carbon Roots International (CRI) has launched a social enterprise venture centered on the creation of carbon-rich char dust from sustainable and renewable agricultural waste biomass.

  • Sanergy toilet in Kenya


    Sanergy makes hygienic sanitation accessible and affordable in Africa's informal settlements.

  • child reading in front of a light in the village of Krishan Kolhi, district Badin

    Eco Energy Finance

    Eco Energy Finance offers a portfolio of renewable energy products that is comparable in cost to what Pakistani villagers currently spend to meet their lighting needs.

  • Niuera wind turbines in Nicaragua


    Niuera (formerly reNo-Va) works at the intersection of grassroots and national needs for the development of sustainable energy strategies for Mexico and Central America.

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    International Development Enterprises (iDE)

    International Development Enterprises (iDE) works to provide clean, affordable solar irrigation pumps to subsistence farmers in Nepal.

  • Ejeepneys from iCSC in Philippines

    Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC)

    iCSC works to put electric mini-buses on roads in the Philippines, charging them with solar power.

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    Eco-Fuel Africa

    Eco-Fuel Africa teaches women and farmers in Uganda to become micro-entrepeneurs in clean energy.

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    Solar Sister

    Solar Sister creates entrepeneurial clean energy networks among women in Uganda.

  • Impact Energies.JPG

    Impact Energies

    Impact Energies is creating the first countrywide repair network for solar lighting systems in Africa.

  • Green Empowerment.JPG

    Green Empowerment

    Green Empowerment is working with marginalized communities to provide affordable access to clean energy via micro-hydro development in Malaysian Borneo.

  • Ghonsla


    Ghonsla is a social enterprise that provides effective and affordable insulation to underserved markets in Pakistan.

  • Legacy Foundation.jpeg

    Legacy Foundation

    Legacy Foundation focuses on stopping the destruction of forests while increasing local employment and income.

  • egg-energy.jpg


    EGG-energy bridges the gap between power generation and the end-customers by packaging electricity in a set of small, rechargeable and fully recyclable batteries that are rented out to customers.

  • Frontier Markets

    Frontier Markets

    Frontier Markets has developed a market channel to bring clean energy products and services to rural households in India.

  • Swayam Krishi Sangam (SKS) India

    Swayam Krishi Sangam

    SKS works with tribal women from ultra poor families in India to make fuel briquettes for cooking purposes as well as incense sticks used in Indian temples, churches and mosques after dipping them in fragrant scents.

  • Multifunction Energy Platform

    Engineers Without Borders

    In Uganda, EWB is implementing a Multifunction Energy Platform that can provide a host of services including providing mechanization for agricultural processing, electricity generation, and irrigation.

  • earthspark.jpg


    EarthSpark aims to mitigate energy poverty by developing smart micro-grids that efficiently leverage existing electricity generation from cell phone towers to provide power to nearby homes and small businesses.

  • Picture of a Habitat for Humanity house in Washington DC

    Habitat for Humanity

    Habitat For Humanity of Washington, D.C. (DC Habitat) is constructing six passive row houses in the Northeast quadrant of Washington, D.C.

  • ACON

    The African Christians Organization Network (ACON) has been working in Western Kenya since 2000 to empower villagers by providing opportunities for development that are environmentally sustainable.

  • A woman on Seachar's stove project in Costa Rica


    The Seattle Biochar Working Group (SeaChar) developed a biochar-producing, micro-gasifier stove to serve Costa Rica’s Santos region, home of migrant coffee farmers.

  • Tending solar panels in Benin, Africa

    Solar Electric Light Fund

    SELF is working in West Africa to install solar power systems that provide electricity for drip-irrigation, water supply, schools, health centers, Internet facilities and other critical services.

  • A sugar palm energy researcher.

    Masarang Foundation

    Forester and conservationist Dr. Willie Smits has collaborated with local organizations to develop a small-scale facility to sustainably harvest juice from the Arenga sugar palm.

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