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The Challenge

Imagine that the sun just set, your kids are doing their homework and you are preparing food to sell at market tomorrow. And then your lights go out. In remote communities using off-grid power systems, these types of service interruptions during peak hours are still common. Green Empowerment’s Smart Grids for Small Grids project aims to bring smarter, open source technology to local engineers and technicians who can use it to build more efficient and reliable mini-grids.

The Work

Green Empowerment works with regional partners SIBAT and TONIBUNG to build renewable energy micro-grids with remote indigenous communities in Southeast Asia. In recent years we have collaborated to design an open source Electronic Load Controller (ELC) that maintains micro-hydro system parameters whilst demand changes throughout the day - minimizing power outages during off-peak hours.

Now we are building on this successful collaboration. Together we are designing technology that will decrease power outages during peak-use hours and allow excess energy (generated in off-peak hours) to be put to productive use.

Recent Updates

October 2021
In phase two we built our first prototypes and carried out lab testing with real-world appliances representative of those we want to target for smarter management. We combined this hardware with simulated changes in demand to see how the system reacts under different conditions.

Through developing prototype hardware, we have also begun to look at the costs of manufacturing the technology particularly from the perspective of local practitioners working in the energy access sector, like our partner organizations Sibat and Tonibung. This is helping us assess what a financially sustainable deployment might look like, and is currently steering us towards an approach that facilitates management of a few shared village services such as cold-storage, ice-making or laundry appliances, rather than at the household level. Household level applications do continue to be an aim of the project if field testing is successful and we can bring the costs down.

In the next phase we hope to take some of the prototype units to test in the field, not only to gauge performance from a technical perspective but also from an end-user perspective. Stay tuned.

Read more about how our organizations workings together with local partners to meet this challenge in our recent blog:

SDG 17 – Partnerships for the Goals: Bringing Global Goals to the Last Mile

Together with local in-country partners, Green Empowerment brings sustainable development to the last mile. The UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 17 Partnership for Goals strengthens the means of implementation and revitalizes the global partnership for sustainable development. As a U.S. based organization with access to resources, Green Empowerment considers it our duty to share these…

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Partner Highlight: SIBAT

For over 30 years SIBAT has worked with indigenous communities in the Philippines to build micro-hydroelectric systems (MHP or Micro-Hydro-Powerplants). We have partnered with SIBAT for over a decade and they are one of our key collaborators in the Smart Grids for Small Grids.

Project Sponsors


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Efficiency for Access

Green Empowerment has received support from the Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund. The Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund is supported by UK aid and the IKEA Foundation. The Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund aims to accelerate the availability, affordability, efficiency, and performance of a range of appliances that are particularly suited to rural developing country contexts and promote social inclusion. Since inception, the Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund has supported 37 projects with over £5 million in funding and facilitated a further £1.6 million to 11 electric cooking projects with funding from UK aid. Energy Saving Trust manages the Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund. The Efficiency for Access Coalition is coordinated jointly by CLASP and the UK’s Energy Saving Trust.

WISIONS of Sustainability

WISIONS of Sustainability is an initiative of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, organized with the support of the Swiss-based foundation ProEvolution to foster practical sustainability energy projects. Email: [email protected]

Vatheuer Family Foundation

The mission of the Foundation at its inception was to improve the quality of life of the indigenous population and to further the local economy through agricultural projects. Vatheuer Family Foundation believes in supporting all levels of focused impact to promote sustainability, drive ingenuity, and to encourage individual welfare, community and nation building.


Kleinschmidt provides practical solutions for complex problems affecting energy, water, and the environment