Wednesday , 17 April 2024

2024 The Digital Energy Facility start-ups Challenge

The Digital Energy Facility, an initiative by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), has announced its annual Digital Energy Challenge for start-ups. This challenge is part of a four-year program.

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The challenge aims to reward 5 to 8 start-ups each year that are developing innovative digital projects to enhance energy access and grid services in Africa. The focus is on start-ups that are leveraging digital technology to address energy access issues, facilitate the integration of renewable energies, and improve the performance of energy operators.

Digital Energy Facility Start-ups Challenge Benefits

  • The winning start-ups will each receive financial support of up to €150K, which includes grant funding to contribute to costs for equipment, software, training, and recruitment,
  • Technical assistance, which could include project management support, strategic and technical expertise, and accounting/reporting assistance. 
  • They will also participate in a joint boot camp run by cross-sectorial experts to support project implementation, provide sectorial insights, foster synergies between project winners, and encourage best-practice sharing.

Digital Energy Facility Start-ups Challenge Eligibility

The 2024 Call for Projects targets

  • Projects based in Africa and owned by start-ups in the pre-seed phase or with early-stage activities. 
  • NGOs can apply under the Start-up category. 
  • Public utilities in partnership with technology/service providers are also eligible. 
  • The projects must have a core element of digital technology and must be innovative, either intrinsically or in relation to the local market or country. 
  • Projects must be local with project management activities in the country where the project is based.

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The 2024 call for projects targets three themes in the energy sector:

Universal electricity access and mini-grids: This theme focuses on digital innovations in the field of mini-grids to maximize their efficiency and impact. It includes

  • energy management systems for optimal use of clean and renewable energy,
  • software and hardware technologies for efficient integration of productive use assets,
  • storage systems, and
  • algorithms minimizing the use of fossil fuel generators,
  • tools to facilitate interconnections with the main grid and with other mini-grids,
  • systems and algorithms for building up nano grids, and
  • geospatial data analytics for power demand evaluation and/or credit risk assessment.

Efficient grid management: This theme is about digital services and products ensuring a proper operation of the power grid. It emphasizes information availability and communication systems, streamlining business-as-usual grid operational management practices of the power system, and increasing power availability and service quality.

Resilience and decarbonization of power systems: This theme is about digital-based solutions enabling the development of greener and more resilient power infrastructure. It includes additional renewable capacity, grid stability and flexibility, and energy savings at the end-user level.

The key dates for the 2024 call for projects are as follows:

  • 4th March 2024: Launch of the Call for Projects
  • 19th March 2024: Information webinar
  • 15th May 2024 – 23h59 CET: Deadline for submission of applications
  • Autumn 2024: Notification of award winners and bootcamp

What are your thoughts?