Productive Use Appliance: Data Collection and Research

In an earlier blog post, we indicated that powering productive-use appliances with high-penetration renewable energy systems may not be straightforward. For example, higher-power appliances may strain or exceed the existing capabilities of a power system and have an unknown energy consumption profile. Determining the value proposition of an income-generating appliance to the owner/operator, a minigrid developer, or an appliance manufacture is somewhat difficult due to the lack of sector-specific information. Furthermore, we believe there is an opportunity to improve the value proposition for appliances in emerging markets through both technical and non-technical innovation. To tackle some of these challenges both for ourselves and the sector, we’re conducting a research effort. The directives were informed by our own experience, our funder, and interviews with sector stakeholders. This research has three main parts:

  1. Data gathering: a critical piece of information to determine value proposition of a renewable energy powered appliance is the amount of energy the appliance will consume and at what time of day. We’re developing a method to discover this information, and we’re looking for partners. Please see the 1-pager below for more info.
  2. Appliance testing: We are developing written methods and building out infrastructure to test larger, income-generating appliances in a laboratory setting. With this effort, we aim to establish open-source, standard test methods for the sector and begin providing trusted-third-party data on appliance performance. We are doing this in partnership with CSU’s Energy Institute.
  3. Identify Innovation Opportunities: Leveraging the outcomes of the first two phases of research, we will identify areas of opportunity in technology and modes of financing or distribution. There are a number of different ways to ‘engineer’ a productive-use asset to be more beneficial to all stakeholders. We take a systems engineering perspective to consider both the technical and non-technical solutions that will make a difference in the lives of consumers in emerging markets.

If you are interested in partnering with us on any or all of these aspects, please contact Amanda DelCore