Service Design & the Energy Sector – Applications in emerging markets

Working Title:
Service Design & the Energy Sector – Applications in emerging markets
Short description:
Since the 70ies, the service sector has increasingly gained momentum and is by now the branch contributing most to the GDP in saturated markets – and we can observe a similar transformation in emerging markets.
We consider distributed power systems as a complex service-oriented solution involving multiple stakeholders that cannot be developed with a one-fits-all formula, but instead requires “appropriate, local-specific solutions’. What increases its intricacy even more is that energy is rarely seen as an end for itself but mostly as a means to fulfill genuine needs such as light, warmth or mechanical power.
The question is – how to design, implement and operate these energy services in a meaningful way?
This session aims to collect evidence about the development of innovative and customer-oriented strategies, the establishment of efficient and functional processes and the creation of engaging interfaces.
We welcome you to share knowledge from empirical and conceptual findings amongst researchers, policy makers and practitioners to make the topic of service design more visible in the energy community.
Klara Lindner,

Bottom-up Microgrids Reaching Scale: DC Technology in Practice

Virtual Session at the MES 2015

Session_HannesNanogrids and microgrids with DC play an important role in providing energy access for large portions of the off-grid population. In particular combined with smart technology solutions and energy efficient appliances they fill more than just a niche. This session aims at linking practitioners and academia in the field of smart DC grid technology in nanogrid and microgrid electrification for an integrated discussion of technology, application and standardization for scale.

In specific, the session invites speakers on the following topics:

  • SessionPic1Technological layouts and system designs target at electrification of basic and advanced loads for consumptive and productive use
  • Standards for DC safety, protection and smart grid integration
  • Growth models, downward and upward connectivity to other grids
  • Successful financial and delivery models for electricity access with bottom-up grids with user incentives for efficient usage behavior


  1. Input from the Lab: Bruce Nordman, Environmental Energy Technologies Division Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory: DC technology as a smart and efficient distribution platform
  2. Input from the field: Fabio De Pascale, CEO Devergy – Energy access with DC Microgrids and Remote Monitoring- Experiences from East Africa
  3. Paper Presentation: Timothy Walsh, Solar Energy Research Institute Of Singapore (SERIS)- Solar DC nano-grids – A promising low-cost approach to village
  4. Paper-Presentation: Shahriar Chowdhury; Director, Centre for Energy Research, United International University Dhaka- Solar DC Grids for Rural Electrification; an Overview

Please find the session flyer here.

To truly reach our global audience in real time, we are addressing the topic of DC nanogrids and microgrids with a virtual session, speakers and audience from all over the world can join without the need to travel to our venue.
To register for the session “Bottom-up Microgrids Reaching Scale: DC Technology in Practice” taking place on Apr 24, 2015 1:30 PM IST, go to:

In case you have any questions, please contact:

Hannes Kirchhoff

Community Engagement

Community Engagement – a ‘Smart Villages’ Session in the Practitioners Track

It is generally recognised that the support and involvement of the local community is a prerequisite to a successful outcome of a village level energy project. Proponents and developers of energy projects therefore need to engage effectively with villagers in order to gain their support.

This session, sponsored by the smart villages initiative, will discuss experiences of engagement activities in preparation for, establishment and operation of energy projects to identify good practices and to differentiate them according to local circumstances.

Business models for mini grids

Business models for mini grids – a ‘Smart Villages’ Session in the Practitioners Track

Much emphasis is being placed on a bottom-up, entrepreneurial approach to establishing mini grids for electricity provision to remote rural communities. Though, for the time being, some form of government/donor support is generally needed.

This session, sponsored by the smart villages initiative, will explore experiences to date of business models associated with such entrepreneurial schemes, and the necessary framework conditions including the policy, regulatory and financial contexts. It will aim to identify the most successful models, understand the reasons for their success, and evaluate the most effective forms of government/donor support.

Linking Energy Access and Development

Linking Energy Access and Development – a ‘Smart Villages’ Session in the Practitioners Track

It is anticipated that access to sustainable energy services should act as a catalyst for development, leading to better access to education, healthcare and clean water, improved opportunities to earn a living, and enhanced nutrition. But such development benefits do not automatically follow, and the evidence base in support of such consequential benefits remain slim.

This session, sponsored by the smart villages initiative, will therefore consider practical experiences and evaluate the framework conditions and associated initiatives necessary to ensure that energy access really does lead to positive development outcomes.

Energy and its impact on development

Session Facilitator: Kat Harrison (SolarAid)

The role that energy plays in international development is increasingly being seen as critical to supporting achievement of major development goals. It is being discussed and debated in the corridors of governments, aid institutions and NGOs and this has never been more evident than the focus on the post-MDG sustainable development agenda that specifically includes goals around energy access. This is helping the issue of energy access, or lack thereof, to be become mainstream and foundational to development, rather than niche and specialised. While it is understood at a top level what impact people’s access to modern energy can have on reducing fuel poverty, improving the health of household members, supporting productive use of hours after dark, encouraging child study and thereby supporting education, there are still real gaps in evidence and knowledge on what are the most effective strategies for achieving this.

This session aims to share findings, activities and progress in this space: what evidence is out there to showcase the impact of energy on development? What programmes have seen real success and change as a result of providing or supporting access to energy? What more can be done to maximise the effectiveness of energy policies and programmes to reach the underserved that live far away from having grid access both geographically and economically?


Contact: Kat Harrison



Ensuring universal access to sustainable energy largely remains a financing problem. However, appropriate finance mechanisms to overcome the investment barrier for sustainable energy technologies in emerging markets are still largely underdeveloped. At MES-BREG 2014, these topics were discussed at length, with four researchers sharing their recent discoveries in this sector. Natalia Realpe presented a paper on the question of how to scale up green microfinance loans (Realpe, 2014); Satish Pillarisetti discussed the innovative group-based products that have been developed for rural communities in India through partnerships between retail banks and locally based NGOs (Pillarisetti, 2014); Izael Da Silva showcased the key insights from his team’s work with the LUAV project in Uganda (Da Silva et. al., 2014); and Dominique Diouf explored the barriers to impact investing in sustainable energy in West Africa (Diouf, 2014).

Still, research on the opportunities and impacts of off-grid sector finance instruments is still in its infancy. Future projects need to target the design of finance instruments that adequately support the needs of off-grid entrepreneurs, the development of tools to support value chains for energy efficiency, renewable energies and other climate mitigation and adaptation initiatives, and the creation of data platforms that allow for the easy exchange of performance data between entrepreneurs and potential financiers.

Decentralization and the legacy of centralized infrastructures

While Europe and other post-industrial economies are struggling with the transition to more flexible and adaptable low-carbon electricity infrastructure, much of the developing world faces challenges on a much more basic level. In Sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) for example, only 14 percent of rural households have access to any electricity at all, according to a widely cited estimate (IEA 2012). As in Europe however, the legacy of inadequate past electricity infrastructure remains one of the main barriers for the transition towards a more sustainable, more flexible and more inclusive energy system. Many countries have inherited a model of top-down planning, large-scale generation (mostly through hydropower plants) and centralized transmission, which “focuses on large-scale energy consumers whose activity influences macro-economic indicators like GNP, and labels a broad range of domestic and rural electricity benefits and beneficiaries as ‘uneconomic’ or expensive social welfare” (Showers 2011).

The long-term neglect of participatory, bottom-up and decentralized approaches is not only due to the legacy of existing physical infrastructure, but also due to the interests of national policy institutions, international donor relations and a governing paradigm of centralized power systems. It has only been recently acknowledged by some governments that there is a centralized power model crisis (Karekezi 2002, Haanyika 2006), leading them to integrate a “decentralized track” (Tenenbaum et al., 2014) into their national electrification strategies, promoting small power producers and mini-grids in rural areas. At the same time, it seems that big and mega-engineering projects for electricity generation and transmission continue to dominate the political agenda throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Posing as an alleged single technological fix for a country’s unreliable and insufficient electricity infrastructure, these projects prevail in the debate on how to prioritize needs for investment in the competition for scarce capital.

Innovative approaches for applying ICT to energy systems

Mobile connectivity has grown far beyond the extent of the electricity grid in most emerging markets. There are more than 643 million people worldwide covered by mobile networks but without access to electricity, representing up to 53% of the global off-grid population. The mobile industry is pushing the demand for decentralized electricity supply in remote areas. In parallel, it also provides a range of new channels for innovative energy business models and projects: the off-grid telecom tower infrastructure, mobile operators distribution networks, machine to machine connectivity, mobile payments and mobile services. Much more research is needed to explore the synergies between the ICT and energy sectors, but also the challenges e.g. in regard to privacy and consumer protection.

At MES-BREG 2014 , a conference session on the nexus of Energy and ICT addressed some of the questions that the sector currently faces. Michael Nique presented his team’s work at GSMA highlighting the opportunities to employ mobile technologies to foment off-grid energy access (Nique & Smertnik, 2014); Bruce Nordman discussed the possibility of using smart appliances to reduce costs in off-grid energy installations by responding to local energy prices in real time (Nordman & Bugossi, 2014).

Big data and energy

The link between Big Data and energy access was one of the hot topics at MES-BREG 2014. “Innovating at the Nexus of Big Data and Energy Access” was the title of a panel session moderated by Peter Alstone. The panelists, Kate Steel from Google, Lesley Marincola from Angaza Design, and Michael Nique from GSMA all agreed on the value of this data but raised the questions: who is allowed unrestricted access, for what purpose, and at what cost? These questions need to be answered in the coming years as part of a critical push to better understand the sector. Other burning questions that were raised included: What happens when hundreds of thousands of off-grid users become more “legible” to big companies and potentially governments? What are the dangers of the ability to remotely control the usage of energy and mobile payment services? How can user privacy be protected while allowing companies to improve their services for consumers? The MES 2015 conference at Bangalore will provide a forum to discuss these questions.

Announcement of Key Note Speaker: Rajendra K. Pachauri

Rajendra K. Pachauri 

Rajendra K. Pachauri, Ph.D., was elected the Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in April 2002 and reelected by acclamation in 2008. The IPCC was established by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme in 1988.

An economist and industrial engineer by training, Dr. Pachauri has been actively involved with energy and climate issues for nearly 40 years. He wrote his first book about energy in 1975 and co-edited his first book about climate change in 1992. He has participated in numerous international forums dealing with the subject of climate change and its policy dimensions and has an extensive academic career addressing the same issues. He has co-authored 130 papers, a large number of which are peer-reviewed, and written or co-written 27 books, most of them about energy and the environment.

Dr. Pachauri is also head of TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute), which he joined in 1982, first as Director and, since April 2001, as Director-General. TERI conducts original research and provides knowledge about energy, the environment, forestry, biotechnology and natural resource conservation to governments, institutions and corporate organizations worldwide.

In January 2008, the President of India awarded him the “Padma Vibhushan”, India’s second- highest civilian honor, for his services in the field of science and engineering. To acknowledge his contributions to the field of the environment, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the President of India in January 2001. He was also bestowed the ‘Officier De La Légion D’Honneur’ by the Government of France in 2006; the ‘Commander of the Order of Leopold II’ by the King of Belgians in July 2009; the ‘Commander of the Order of the White Rose of Finland’ by the Prime Minister of Finland in February 2010, ‘The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star’ by His Majesty Akihito, Emperor of Japan in April 2010 and Mexican Order of the ‘Aztec Eagle’ by the President of Mexico in June, 2012. In July 2013, he was conferred with the Pico della Mirandola Prize by the Foundation Cassa di Risparmio di Mirandola.

After a short managerial career at the Diesel Locomotive Works, Varanasi, India, Dr. Pachauri enrolled in North Carolina State University (USA), where he earned a Master’s degree in Industrial Engineering in 1972 and a Ph.D. with co-majors in Industrial Engineering and Economics in 1974. He also served as Assistant Professor (August 1974-May 1975) and Visiting Faculty Member (Summer 1976 and 1977) in the University’s Department of Economics and Business.

Dr. Pachauri has held numerous academic positions and was the Founding Director of the Yale (University) Climate and Energy Institute (YCEI) from July 2009 through June 2012, following which he was appointed Senior Adviser to YCEI. He is also currently Professor in the Practice of Sustainable Development at the Yale School of Forestry & Environment Studies, Honorary Professor of the University of Eastern Finland, and Chancellor of TERI University. His former academic posts include the following samples:

  • Distinguished Professor, Ritsumeikan University, Japan (April 1, 2007 – March 31, 2009).
  • McCluskey Fellow at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University (2000); Member, Senior Faculty (1975 to 1979), Consulting and Applied Research Visiting Research Fellow, The World Bank, Washington, D.C. (1990);
  • Senior Visiting Fellow, Resource Systems Institute, East-West Center, USA (1982);
  • Visiting Professor, Resource Economics, at West Virginia University (1981 to 1982); and
  • Director, Consulting and Applied Research Division, (1979 to 1981), Administrative Staff, College of India, Hyderabad.

Dr Pachauri’s wide-ranging expertise has resulted in his membership of various international and national committees and boards. At the international level, these include his positions as Adviser, International Advisory Board, Toyota Motor Corporation, Japan, April 2006 to March 2009; Member, Board of the International Solar Energy Society (1991-97); Member, World Resources Institute Council (1992); President and Chairman, International Association for Energy Economics, Washington, D C (1988, 1989-90, respectively); and President, Asian Energy Institute (1992 onwards). He also joined the board of the Global Humanitarian Forum, founded by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan from 2007 to 2010.

At the national level the committees of the Government of India to which he has contributed include the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India (July 2001 to May 2004); Advisory Board on Energy, reporting directly to the Prime Minister (1983-88); National Environmental Council, under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister (November 1993 to April 1999); and Oil Industry Restructuring Group, ‘R’ Group, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (1994). Currently he is member of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Council on Climate Change.

Dr Pachauri has also been associated with academic and research institutes. He is on the Board of Directors of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd (June 2006) and also on the Board of Directors of the NTPC Limited (January 2006). He was on the Board of Directors of the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (January 1999 to September 2003); Board of Directors of GAIL (India) Ltd. (April 2003 to October 2004); National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd (August 2002 to August 2005); the Board of Governors, Shriram Scientific and Industrial Research Foundation (September 1987-1990); the Executive Committee and then the Board of Trustees of the India International Centre, New Delhi (1985 onwards); the Governing Council and President (September 2004 – September 2006) of the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi (October 1987 onwards); and the Court of Governors, Administrative Staff College of India (1979-81).

In September 1999, he was appointed Chairman of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Heritage Foundation. Earlier, in April 1999, he was appointed Member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Environment Agency, Government of Japan, in which position he still continues.

He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the India International Centre, and Vice President of the Bangalore International Centre, and he was the President of the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi during the period September 2004 to September 2006.

The political economy of decentralised energy: empirical and conceptual perspectives at different scales

Session Facilitators: Mattijs Smits (Wageningen University) and Jonas van der Straeten (Technical University, Berlin)

While decentralised energy systems are often portrayed as neutral and inherently positive solutions, they frequently encounter various political barriers. Their development can be delayed or even obstructed by state agencies, utilities or private companies who have certain interests in centralised (and often non-renewable) energy systems. This can be through direct resistance, but more often takes the shape of (hidden) disincentives (e.g. taxes), the supressing of decentralised energy companies/departments, or by favouring centralised solutions in various ways. Decentralised solutions can also encounter resistance at the local level, when they – for example – go against vested interests, lead to local pollution or exacerbate inequality.

This session aims to unpack the inherently political nature of decentralised energy solutions by collecting diverse empirical and conceptual perspectives on the political economy of decentralised energy solutions at various scales. Through discussion and comparison of these cases and frameworks, this session aims to (1) share knowledge amongst researchers, policy makers and practitioners on the political and social nature of decentralised energy solutions and (2) discuss ways of taking the political economy of decentralised energy systems into account when designing, planning, implementing and operating such systems.


Contact: Jonas van der Straeten,

MES 2013 Proceedings now available!

The MES 2013 Proceedings is now online and available here.

Note: Practitioner’s papers will be published as an online version only. More information will follow soon.

++Announcement of keynote speaker Patricia Kawagga++

We are honoured to announce Patricia Kawagga as keynote speaker at the MES 2013 conference. Patricia is an experienced expert in designing energy loan products for financial institutions as well as designing viable partnerships to ensure easy access of credit by rural communities for renewable energy products.


Teaching Technology Tools: Building a Global Energy Training Laboratory

Session Facilitator: Brian Edlefsen Lasch, Microenergy international

The session invites a variety of practitioners, researchers and project implementers to demonstrate concrete tools and methodologies for providing capacity building on decentralized energy issues.  Capacity building can often be more effective when transported to those locations and contexts where the training will actually be applied.


Closing Session

Rethinking Power: Designing an Energy System for Peace and Sustainability

Friday, March 1st, 2013
5.30pm – 8.30pm
Lichthof of the Technische Universität Berlin, Straße des 17. Juni 135


Public Session

Thursday, Feb. 28th, 2013
starting from 5pm
Lichthof of the Technische Universität Berlin, Straße des 17. Juni 135


Opening Session

Sustainable Energy Access for All: Chances and Challenges from the Micro Perspective

Wednesday, Feb. 27th, 2013
6 pm till 7.30 pm
Lichthof of the Technische Universität Berlin, Straße des 17. Juni 135


++Announcement of conference panelist Reiner Braun++

We are pleased to announce that Reiner Braun, member of the Reiner BraunExecutive Board of NatWiss (NaturwissenschaftlerInnen-Initiative) and Managing Director of the Federation of German Scientists (VDW), will join the MES conference 2013 public panel discussion on Friday, March 1st.



The Potential of Minigrids and Critical Factors

Session facilitator:
Gersom Aliaga, MicroEnergy International
Jesus Martinez, MicroEnergy International

Session moderator: Dr. Teo Sanchez of Practical Action, UK

Universal energy access remains a challenge despite being essential in enabling human development. There are 1.3 billion people without electricity worldwide (International Energy Agency [IEA], 2011) while electricity is the essential basis for the improvement of elementary needs, like light, communication, education, health and safety. Further, electricity has been repeatedly linked to poverty reduction.