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10Power: Bringing renewable energy to areas of the world that do not have equal access to electricity

Redefining international development as sustainable innovation.

Photo of Sandra Kwak
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10Power provides third party finance for renewable energy projects in emerging economies and empowers communities to promote clean water, gender equality, and ecosystem restoration.

Energy is the backbone that supports advancement in quality of life, yet close to one-fifth of humans on the planet, 1.3 billion people, lack access to electricity. Without consistent power, it is impossible to provide running water, refrigeration of food or vaccines, or access to information technology and global markets. Growth in developing economies will cause the entire world’s energy usage to increase by 150% over the next 15 years. We are at the most crucial crossroad in human history. One direction carries us further down the road that degrades well-being, burns fossil fuels and emits carbon dioxide. The other path is up to us to define. Working with local partners, 10Power finances solar projects to create regenerative growth that  reduces global carbon emissions, and economically empowers stakeholders.

Imagine a woman named Angelique living in one of the worst slums in Haiti, Cité Soleil. She lives in a house with no electricity, no running water or toilet, no trash pickup. She works grueling hours in a factory, but barely makes enough money to cover her commute and a little bit of food for her and her child. She is one of the few people in her community with a job, but is she truly fortunate? 

10Power's business model disrupts the hand-to-mouth poverty cycle. We identify site-specific appropriate renewable technology, work with local suppliers to install storage, smart meters and inverters, enable customers to pay month by month for their equipment using mobile pre-pay systems, and in the commercial and industrial segment are working with local entrepreneurs to take renewable energy to their communities.

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10Power's business model is applicable all over the world. We have mapped out the geographies with the most acute energy poverty and they are actually the places with the most abundant solar generation potential on earth. 

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10Power's first market is Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. In Haiti 66% of the population does not have a connection to the electrical grid, and even those who do experience frequent blackouts and inconsistent power quality. All business owners run diesel generators, which are expensive, subject to oil price shocks, and create carbon emissions as well as black particulate matter, which causes lung cancer. The amortized cost for businesses to run diesel generators is $1.47 per kilowatt hour. This is over 10 times the price of electricity in the U.S., which averages at $0.12 per kilowatt hour.

Operating with a systems-thinking approach, 10Power has built a trust network of local installers, partners, and customers; and identified our first accounts in the water purification, agriculture, health, manufacturing, and retail segments. Our business model directly: 

  • Creates in-country green jobs with attention to gender empowerment
  • Saves businesses money on energy, which increases the local money multiplier
  • Improves air quality by decreasing black particulate matter
  • Reduces carbon emissions from diesel generators
  • Builds regenerative capacity for sustainable economic growth


Providing third party finance for renewables is a proven business model, which revolutionized the U.S. solar market and catapulted growth by introducing billions in institutional money into the sector. This eliminated the single biggest adoption barrier – high upfront cost. Access to capital opened the playing field for solar, increased demand, and in turn drove down the cost of panel production. Solar is already price competitive in energy poor areas, especially when compared to the mix of diesel, propane, kerosene, batteries, and unreliable grids that business owners are using to get by. Solar makes economic sense, but the barrier to obtaining photovoltaic technology in places like Haiti is that business owners do not have access to capital and cannot afford to divert a large capital expenditure from their operations.

After 10Power installs solar on Angelique's factory, she completes the solar technician training program and is able to go back to her home – a remote village on the coast – bringing with her access to renewable energy and technology.

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Evaluation results

21 evaluations so far

1. #Design4Climate Social Share: Are you so passionate about this Climate Innovation Story that you would tell all your friends?

I just did! - 85.7%

I prefer to write my responses in the comments section below. - 14.3%

16 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Lexie Kings

As noted many of these high polluting countries, China and India, still and will burn coal for the seeming future. Also noted is that the coal they burn is the high polluting coal. Japan and China have both shown interest in the cleaner burning coal produced in the Powder River basin in Wyoming. Wyoming would like to export this coal to Asia but they are blocked by environmental protestors on the west coast. Exporting Powder River coal to Asia would bring high paying union jobs to the Powder River basin as well as to the west coast. It would also cut down on pollution by burning cleaner coal in the countries were air pollution is highest. Even climate scientists have said the world will still continue burning coal for another twenty years. If coal is still going to be burnt than we need to burn the cleanest coal there is. Wall Street 24/7 estimated in the next twenty years wind power will grow 108% and solar power 25%. But it will take twenty years to get those industries built along with the grid to transport the clean renewable energy. What do we do in the meantime? Quit using electricity, but as an essay expert with http://essay.expert/ I'd say, China and India won't do, or burn cleaner coal.

Photo of John Parker

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Photo of Raakhee Suryaprakash

Congrats and all the best! Hope to see more solutions from you - Three Cheers  from Sunshine Millennium (http://sunshine-millennium.blogspot.in/2014/09/institutions-that-inspired-sunshine.html)

Photo of Matthew Ridenour

Sandra Kwak CONGRATULATIONS on being featured as a Top Story for the challenge! Keep up the fantastic work with 10Power!

Photo of Pablo Gabatto

Great use of third party finance to expand the reach to those in need of a reliable and renewable energy source! Applause to you!

Photo of Nicole Sroka

Awesome approach Sandra!

Photo of Sandra Kwak

Thanks Nicole!

Photo of David Karabelnikoff

Having studied at RES | The School for Renewable Energy Sciences, I hope that my endorsement will count in your quest for #Design4Climate Fellowship. Sandra is an amazing individual - she's passionate about making a difference in the world. If awarded the fellowship she will make an impact on climate action and energy poverty. I urge Open IDEO to give her application a most through review.

Photo of Sandra Kwak

Thanks David. What do you think some of the opportunities are for 10Power to work domestically with Native Tribes? 

Photo of Zack D. Ahrens

What does a more evolved business model look like? Sandra is creating it with 10Power.  When you combine access to solar energy with education you create sustainable innovation and break a cycle of poverty -- a cycle whose story has run its course.  Let's write a new story by helping Sandra tell hers.  Vote for @10PWR in the #Design4Climate fellowship with #OpenIDEO.   

Photo of Sandra Kwak

Thank you Zack! 10Power was formed based on the "Each 1 teach 10" principle. If we each influence 10 people to live more sustainably and they in turn each influence 10 people we can scale regeneration exponentially!

Photo of Morgan Matthews

This is an excellent multifaceted solution. Empowering women, providing access to capital and clean energy is a triple win! The bonus is that this model can be taken to scale.

Photo of Sandra Kwak

Thanks Morgan! Check out the Sustainable Energy for All stats linking renewable energy to women's health. http://www.se4all.org/hio/energy-and-womens-health/
10Power is taking it a step farther, creating entrepreneurship opportunities for women in renewable industries.  

Photo of Lauren McTaggart

If we've learned anything from the recent Paris Climate Accord, it's that renewable energy is more important than ever. In his recent article, "Paris Climate Accord is a Big, Big Deal", NYT Editor Thomas Friedman talks about how renewable energy, along with imposing a price on carbon, are the key to improving climate change.  He also mentions that solar prices have dropped by more than 80 percent, and now cost less than a new coal plant. Solutions like what 10Power is doing are not only helping improve lives, and helping the earth, but also creating a sustainable model to reduce costs in a growing 3rd world country. #design4climate

Photo of Sandra Kwak

So true Lauren!! This PEW Trust whitepaper states that "60% of all new electricity generated globally is projected to come from renewables by 2030." 60% of all new electricity generated globally is projected to come from renewables by 2030.  http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/reports/2015/05/power-shifts

Photo of Patrick

@10PWR deserves a #Design4Climate Fellowship! OpenIDEO please help 10Power bring third party financing for renewables to Haiti!