UNDP/Nesta renewable energy challenge: Can you help people affected by war?

May 25, 2013

Milos Bosnjak and family – living without electricity for 10 years after returning home

At the end of 2012 we told you the story about Miloš Bošnjak and his family. They own a cow, one calf and 163 sheep. But after returning home when the war ended in Bosnia and Herzegovina, they didn’t have electricity.

Because they lived off the grid they couldn’t store and refrigerate milk, or produce cheese – which they could then sell to generate much-needed income.
Miloš is among the one million people that returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina after the war.

It is to help people like Milos’ family that on 23 November, 2012 UNDP launched the UNDP renewable energy challenge.

The Renewable Energy Challenge was launched with our partner, Nesta, in light of their extensive experience in using challenges to find solutions to intractable problems.

We were looking for an individual or company that could help us find a renewable energy solution to provide off-grid power to cover the needs of returnee families in rural Bosnia and Herzegovina.

By taking part in the challenge, more than 3,000 families who returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina over 10 years ago would finally have access to electricity.

The declining funding for returnees left little hope that the grid would be extended to their villages – and in most cases, such an investment would not be economically justified. So families like Milos’ were effectively left out.

The challenge called for the design and development of a sustainable, cost-effective solution for a stand-alone, off-grid renewable energy supply that could produce an average of 1.25 kilowatts of electricity and heat 120 litres of water per day, and cost no more than 5,000 EUR. (Want a more detailed description?)

With the chance of winning the 20,000 USD cash prize, and seeing their solution tested in the field, over 35 applications were received.  On 24th June 2013, the top two were selected and their proposed solutions should be sent to BiH to undergo field tests in the rural areas.