Empower a Billion Lives unleashes innovation through the development and demonstration of new regionally relevant, holistic, scalable, and economically viable solutions by leveraging 21st-century technologies that feature exponentially declining prices and have shown rapid global adoption.
The competition is agnostic to energy sources, technologies, business models, and evaluates the potential impact and ability to rapidly and sustainably scale the solutions to a Billion customers.
Teams are invited from across the globe and from all walks of life, including companies, research organizations, entrepreneurial startups, and student teams from colleges and universities.
Empower a Billion Lives II was launched on September 7, 2021. Teams have until November 30, 2021, to submit a concept paper. All guidelines are available at
PELS is organizing this competition under the Global Energy Access Forum.
To find out more about the competition go to:
To support the Empower a Billion Lives Global Competition go to:
Initially starting in 2018 with 475 registered teams from 70 countries, 170 proposals were reviewed with a selection of 82 teams to compete "shark tank" style at one of 5 Regional Rounds.
The Regional Rounds were:
Pacific Asia - Shenzhen, China
South Asia - Chennai, India
Europe - Seville, Spain
Africa - Johannesburg, South Africa
Americas - Atlanta, Georgia, United States
The Empower a Billion Lives Global Final was held on October 1, 2019
Global Final Prizes were awarded to the following teams:
Grand Prize US$100,000 went to SoULS Initiative, IIT Bombay for their solution; Solar Urja through Localization for Sustainability
Track prizes are divided into two categories, centralized and decentralized and two subcategories, commercial and emergent.
Centralized Emergent Prize US$30,000 went to Entrepreneurs du Monde and Okra for their solution to support people’s own entrepreneurial ventures and giving them access to products that can bring significant health, economic and environmental benefits.
Decentralized Emergent Prize US$30,000 went to SolarWorX for designing and manufacturing the next generation of solar pay-as-you-go solutions sold on a B2B basis
Centralized Commercial Prize US$30,000 went to Havenill Synergy for using solar energy to generate clean, safe, cost-effective and sustainable electricity in rural and urban Nigeria.
The Best Decentralized Commercial track team won the Grand Prize.
The Best Student Team Prize US$20,000 went to Reeddi for sustainably provides clean energy and allied innovations at a price-point that individuals and businesses operating in energy-poor regions of the world can afford.
An additional prize was awarded to Xpower for The Best Base of the Pyramid Solution for designing, building, and operating next-generation solar microgrids for rural electrification. Combining mains AC and low voltage DC, these grids are optimized for cost, yet designed to scale with users' needs over time.
Two teams received an honorable mention: Connex Solar (previously Smart-Grids Lab), for developing plug-and-play smart DC network controllers for bottom-up electrification in the Developing World; and, Simusolar for providing farmers and fishers with the IoT-enabled tools they need to improve productivity and income.
To see the solutions of all the teams competing in the Global Final go to empowerabillionlives.org/finalists
For more information, go to the
Thank you to our supporters:
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.