Pico Power

EWB-NL is working with the local organization JVE in Togo and the village community who requested our assistance and technical expertise in setting up an off-grid solar energy system and micro-grid as a social impact venture.

Togo is electrifying at a high rate, yet many are left with poor access to electricity.


Togo is electrifying at a high rate, yet many are left with poor access to electricity. The national grid is expanding and solar home systems are being marketed for secluded areas, but smaller villages located far away from the larger cities still have no outlook of a future electrification. Kodje is such a village. EWB is currently engineering an innovative mini-grid solution aiming for an affordable and sustainable electrification of Kodje and similar villages, and looking for funding through a crowdfunding campaign to set-up a pilot mini-grid.


Main goal of the project is to improve the quality of life of the local villagers. Bringing higher quality electricity will benefit students thanks to longer lessons during evening hours in the school and to the possibility of studying at home during nights. Life quality into the households will improve by using appliances to cook, for house management and to create leisure moments within the family. The biggest transformation will be by allowing businesses to develop with higher energy access. The electricity for agriculture, boutiques and sewing will boost productivity and hence incomes. Electricity access in the hospital will allow better health conditions thanks lightning and medicine refrigeration. Main goals of the pilot project are:

  • Building a social venture that operates the minigrid
  • Electrify 136 households in Kodje
  • Provide proof of concept of the innovative solution


The proposed solution entails an innovative minigrid solution that is operated by the local community. This will boost the local cohesion and provides access to electricity for the less wealthy. The grid design allows for serve economic activities as well, such as milling and pumping. This will boost the local economy and will allow for an ecologically justified local energy transition in respect to kerosene-powered engines. An innovative mobile payment system enables easy (pre-)payments and virtually eliminate the corruption risk. Both have been identified – after extensive research – as a prerequisite for mini-grids to be sustainable by local initiatives. Mini-grids exhibit clear advantages compared to other solutions, due to (1) economies of scale in hamlets and therefore cheaper electricity (2) an opportunity to boost the local economy and development by providing light in the schools after dark and (3) a social dimension when the mini-grid is run by the local community, forcing the individual villagers to work as one to maintain and operate the grid.

The complete project encompasses four phases. The first phase was the seed phase. This entailed commissioning of a 60kW solar plant in Madagascar during which the first experience with smart meters has been acquired for EWB. The solar plant is currently operating successfully, run by a local organization. The second (and current) phase is the pilot in Kodje, Togo. The objective of this phase is to test and optimize the current design on a small scale in the field. The pilot will be carried out by EWB and local partner Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (JVE). The planned start of construction is set early 2020, provided sufficient funding is raised. After the pilot phase has proven to be successful, the mini-grid will be extended throughout the entire village. This has to demonstrate that it can result in not just a technically feasible solution, but that it can be sustainable from an ecologic and economic point of view as well. This phase will be carried out by EWB and JVE. Ultimate goals is to scale-up across rural Togo and beyond, to be carried out by local organization JVE. This crowdfunding funding campaign will only be used for the pilot phase. The total funding requirement for this phase amounts to €150.000.


Help EwB-NL support the people of Kodje. In order to successfully execute the project, we need your financial support. This can be done as an individual or as a company. In-kind
sponsorship is also very welcome; think e.g. of solar panels. Engineers without Borders – the Netherlands (EWBNL) is established in Rotterdam and has been operating as an independent
foundation since 2016. Its mission is improving well-being by means of technology. To this end, EWB provides engineering services for projects in third world countries. EWB aims to deliver
projects that are sustainable from a financial, institutional, environmental, technological and social point of view.

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