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Empower a Billion Lives

Advancing technology for humanity

Empower a Billion Lives

Despite decades of efforts by governments and NGOs, around 700 million people in the world today still live with no access to electricity and around 3 billion live with energy poverty so severe that it impacts their lives. Climate change and new technologies such as solar and electric vehicles (EVs) could also widen the gap between the haves and have-nots even more. However, 21st-century technologies also hold the promise of scalable solutions to abundant energy that is affordable, clean, and equitable.

To encourage the development of solutions, the GEAF organizes Empower a Billion Lives (EBL), a recurring global competition that helps to create an ecosystem of technologists and entrepreneurs who develop, demonstrate, derisk, and deploy new energy access solutions that are holistic, economically viable, and can rapidly scale in the target market segments. Please visit the Empower a Billion Lives website and YouTube channel to learn more about this IEEE PELS initiative.

Empower a Billion Lives

Help Us to Make a Difference!

We believe energy should be affordable, clean, and equitable for everyone worldwide. Please consider a donation to support the Empower a Billion Lives initiative and help give access to energy to billions of people who currently live in poverty without it.

About the EBL II Competition

Teams are invited to participate in the EBL-II competition and develop and deploy a scalable holistic solution to complex issues of abundant energy access, equity, and sustainability. They come from across the globe and from all walks of life, including companies, entrepreneurial startups, research organizations, and student teams from colleges and universities. It is organized by PELS under the Global Energy Access Forum (GEAF). The competition is agnostic to energy sources, technologies, and business models while evaluating the potential impact and ability to rapidly and sustainably scale solutions to a billion customers.

Past Competitions

2023 EBL II Competition

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2019 EBL II Competition

Initially starting in 2018 with 475 registered teams from 70 countries, 170 proposals were reviewed and 82 teams were selected to compete “shark tank” style at one of the five Regional Rounds: Africa (Johannesburg, South Africa), Americas (Atlanta, Georgia, USA), Europe (Seville, Spain), Pacific Asia (Shenzhen, China), and South Asia (Chennai, India).

The EBL Global Final was held on 1 October 2019 and all of the solutions presented by the finalists can be viewed here. EBL would like to thank the following supporters of this event: Kehua Technologies, On Semiconductors, Southern Company, Vicor, Sungrow Technology, Texas Instruments and partners, the Center for Distributed Energy at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the IEEE Foundation.

Grand Prize Winner

Empower a Billion Lives 2019 Winner

SoULS Initiative, IIT Bombay

For their solution of Solar Urja through Localization through Stability

Additional Prize Winners

  • Centralized Commercial Prize (USD 30,000): Havenill Synergy, for using solar energy to generate clean, safe, cost-effective, and sustainable electricity in rural and urban Nigeria
  • Decentralized Commercial Prize (USD 30,000): SoULS Initiative, IIT Bombay
  • Centralized Emergent Prize (USD 30,000): Entrepreneurs du Monde and Okra, for their solution to support people’s own entrepreneurial ventures and give them access to products that can bring significant health, economic, and environmental benefits
  • Decentralized Emergent Prize (USD 30,000): SolarWorX, for designing and manufacturing the next generation of solar pay-as-you-go solutions sold on a B2B basis
  • Best Students Team Prize (USD 20,000): Reeddi, for sustainably providing clean energy and allied innovations at a pricepoint that individuals and businesses operating in energy-poor regions of the world can afford
  • Best Base of the Pyramid Solution: Xpower, for designing, building, and operating next-generation solar microgrids for rural electrification – combining mains AC and low voltage DC allows the grids to be optimized for cost and yet designed to scale with users’ needs over time

Honorable Mentions

  • Connex Solar (previously Smart-Grids Lab), for developing plug-and-play smart DC network controllers for bottom-up electrification in the Developing World
  • Simusolar, for providing farmers and fishers with the IoT-enabled tools they need to improve productivity and income