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Global LEAP competition for world’s most innovative off-grid refrigerators launched

The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) Ideas to Impact Programme (I2I) has joined the Global LEAP Awards Off-Grid Refrigerator Competition, a global competition aimed at spurring innovation in the emerging off-grid refrigeration market and advancing access to modern energy services around the world.

 I2I’s partnership and support increases the total award to $600,000. The competition is now accepting nominations and will incentivize the development of low-cost and efficient refrigerator technologies appropriate for communities living off the grid in developing countries. 

I2I is the competition’s latest partner, joining the Clean Energy Ministerial’s Global Lighting and Energy Access Partnership (Global LEAP), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through Scaling Off-Grid Energy: A Grand Challenge for Development, and the U.S. Government’s Power Africa initiative.  

The competition will offer three innovation prizes to incentivize advancements in off-grid refrigeration technology, while also recognizing best-in-class commercially available off-grid refrigerators. With contributions from both USAID and DFID, each of the three innovation prizes in the competition are expected to be worth $200,000. Commercially available winners and finalists will also be eligible for participation in a new program designed to scale up clean energy access markets by incentivizing bulk procurement of outstanding off-grid appliances.  

“Off-grid refrigeration is one of the demand drivers for solar home systems and microgrids, and it holds unique potential to unlock economic and social progress for the 600 million people living off the grid in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the over 1 billion lacking electricity globally,” said USAID Power Africa Initiative Coordinator Andrew Herscowitz. “It can enable income-generating activities, prolong the nutritional value of food, diversify diets, and reduce the time that households spend shopping or gathering food. And as the Power Africa partnership works to expand the off-grid market, efficient refrigeration at affordable prices is a key component for future growth in solar home systems and microgrids.” 

However, despite the technology’s commercial and development promise, the market for off-grid refrigeration is nascent, and the prevalence of refrigerators in developing countries, particularly in rural areas, remains low. Improvements in efficiency, design, and cost are needed for the off-grid refrigeration market to reach its full potential.  

“Highly energy-efficient, appropriately designed, and cost-effective refrigerators are essential to off-grid market growth and to positive impacts related to nutrition, health, and economic growth,” said Rose Mutiso, the U.S. coordinator for the Global LEAP initiative. 

Through this partnership, DFID expects to incentivize innovators to come forward, and apply and refine their technologies to drive down the price and increase the efficiency of off-grid refrigeration. This is one of many investments DFID and other Global LEAP partners are making to support innovation in low-cost, high-quality, efficient off-grid appliances. 

This call for nominations is part of the 2016–2017 Global LEAP Awards Program, an international competition that identifies and promotes the world’s best, most energy-efficient, and most innovative off-grid appliances, and is also the first investment focused on stimulating innovation under the new $36 million Scaling Off-Grid Energy: A Grand Challenge for Development initiative

Designers, developers, manufacturers, and distributors of off-grid refrigerators are encouraged to nominate eligible products at The deadline for nominations is 20 January 2017. 


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