Eradicating Poverty through Energy Innovation Workshop


Eradicating Poverty through Energy Innovation



The International Energy Agency estimates that societies worldwide will invest $40 trillion in a sustainable energy transition over the next few decades. The goal of the inaugural Eradicating Poverty through Energy Innovation (EPEI) workshop is to explore how these investments can be used not only to achieve carbon neutrality but also to advance human thriving.

The ties between energy and poverty run deep around the globe. Billions worldwide lack access to affordable, sustainable electricity to power households, businesses, and community services. Many more face routine energy payments that drain scarce financial resources. Still more bear burdens and risks of pollution, violence, corruption, and oppression associated with energy development, processing, distribution, infrastructure, and markets that constrain their opportunities for economic development and well-being.

In this workshop, we seek to engage and build a community of researchers, leaders, activists, and innovators involved in building strategies, advancing policies, and designing projects for community energy innovation that address the above challenges. We will explore and advance new models and frameworks for energy innovation that reduce poverty and end the relationship between energy systems and human suffering. We will discuss opportunities for collaborative initiatives and planning for future activities.


Workshop outcomes

In addition to a workshop report, position papers representing the collective knowledge of the group on the thematic areas are expected to materialize. Identified teams will works on these papers and release them at appropriate platforms after the workshop, ensuring communication to a wider audience.

This being the inaugural workshop, one of the primary goals is to create a multi-disciplinary, global think tank that continues to collaborate through follow-up events, intellectual exchanges and joint projects. Subsequently, ideas for future workshops shall be invited from current participants and interested stakeholders.


Welcome and Introductions: Clark Miller

Eradicating Poverty through Energy Innovation Keynote Speaker: Simon Trace

Eradicating Poverty through Energy Innovation Keynote Speaker: Jim Rogers

Reimagining Access: Energy for Whom and by Whom?

Land Art Generator Initiative

Forest Waste to Energy

Creating Value from Waste

Diesel Fuel Price Modeling

Promoting Community Sustainability through Clean Energy in Rural North East India

The Case for Solar Communities in Puerto Rico

Themes and driving questions

Creating urgent and meaningful impact on how energy innovations can lead to sustainable outcomes for the disadvantaged, is a shared concern of this group. It has become clear over time that strategies, programs, policies, governance, technology and markets need to be reimagined and aligned to the goals of ending poverty and maximizing well-being for all.

The workshop has been envisioned to harness ideas and create new directions in the following broad thematic areas:

  • Social value: how can energy innovation improve value creation in diverse communities?
  • Energy thriving: what does it mean to thrive and how can energy innovation contribute?
  • Financing energy and development in communities: what works, to what ends?
  • What kinds of ownership models for energy innovation encourage community development?
  • Local partnerships and cooperative structures for energy projects: what works and why?
  • Regulatory, policy, and legal challenges: what limits community entrepreneurship in the clean energy sector, and how can those limits be lifted?

The community of energy innovators and thinkers interested in these thematic areas, is broad and spans across entrepreneurs, businesses, governments, academia and social groups. Thus, to facilitate constructive cross-cutting dialogue and exchange of ideas, specific questions, guided by the overarching theme, is put forward for deliberation. The four driving questions are:

  • What is the social value of energy innovation for poverty eradication for marginalized communities and how can it be achieved in different contexts?
  • How to engage communities in imagining sustainable futures and how energy innovation can contribute in achieving them?
  • What role can innovative grassroots energy enterprises play towards sustainable well-being of communities and how can they be supported?
  • How can policy and governance at different levels facilitate the thriving of grassroots energy enterprises that enhance sustainable well-being and foster grassroots energy innovation?

Participants will deliberate and bring ideas to the table based on their research and experiences. Small working groups will be formed over the course of the workshop, documenting the ideas and approaches that emerge. These will be supplemented by posters, short talks, panel discussions etc., where a range of experiences will be shared by the participants, representative of the diversity of knowledge systems in this arena.


Conference schedule and venue:

Day 1, Monday (12th Feb): 12pm – 7pm - Room: Turquoise/ MU 220

Day 2, Tuesday (13th Feb): 8am – 7pm - Room: Ventana Ballroom/ MU 241 B&C
8pm – 10pm Power Talks Location: TBD

Day 3, Wednesday (14th Feb): 8am – 1pm - Room: Turquoise/ MU 220

Memorial Union (MU) at the Tempe Campus, Arizona State University. AND Conference Rooms:


Registration Desk

The conference registration desk will be staffed throughout the conference. Registration desk locations are:
Monday: Near the Entrance of Turquoise Room
Tuesday: Near the Entrance of Ventana Ball Room B C
Wednesday: Near the Entrance of Turquoise Room



Posters will be displayed at the conference venue and participants will have the opportunity to interact with presenters during the designated poster sessions. The posters shall remain displayed at all other times as well.

For presenters: Display boards for posters will be provided for those who have signed up on the google form, at the workshop venue. Please ensure your posters are not larger than 30 inches x 40 inches.



Lunch will be provided on all three days of the conference, Feb 12, 13 & 14.
Breakfast will be provided on second and third days- Feb 13 & 14.
Dinner will be provided on the second day only – Feb 13.
Light snacks and beverage will be provided at set times throughout the conference (see agenda)

Downtown Tempe has a wide variety of restaurants within walking distance from the main campus and the Graduate hotel. Ask any staff/volunteers for recommendations!


Special Events

ASU will host dinner on the second day, Tuesday, Feb 13 at the MU in Ventana Ballroom between 5 – 8 pm

ASU Solar Facilities tour (limited openings and subject to participant interest).More details to come. Please let us know if you are interested.



If you have a medical emergency, dial 911. If you need assistance for other reasons, contact MU staff, workshop volunteers or the hotel front desk in the lobby.


Internet Access

ASU has Wi-Fi available to all users by connecting to Wi-Fi and clicking on the “ASU Guest” network.


Weather and attire

The average high in early February is around 70°F/21°C and the average low is around 40°F/4°C. But weather will fluctuate.

Conference attire is business casual.


Getting around & Lodging

The Graduate Hotel (official workshop hotel) is located on:

The hotel is located one block South of Arizona State University’s main campus and is adjacent to downtown Tempe’s shopping, dining, and entertainment district. The hotel concierge can assist you with your transportation needs and questions.

From Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport to/from the Graduate Hotel Tempe:

  • Free shuttle provided by the hotel and available 24/7:
    • Once you have picked up your luggage from baggage claim, you will call the front desk at +1-(480)-967-9431. Select option 2 to be connected to the front desk. You will let them know what airline you flew in on and that you are ready to be picked up. The front desk agent will direct you to the appropriate area to meet the shuttle, as well as give you an ETA of when they will be arriving to pick you up.
  • Uber -
  • Lyft -
  • Taxi – please see the Graduate Hotel’s concierge for assistance and calling a taxi
  • Light Rail – Roundtrip tickets are $4.00 to downtown Phoenix. The Light Rail train runs every 12 minutes between 7:00am–7:00pm and every 20 minutes outside of those hours. The first trip starts at 4:40am on the weekends and ends at 2:00am. Please note that the northbound and southbound train stops are approximately one block away from each other. The northbound train travels along Central Avenue. The southbound train travels on 1st Ave (one block west of Central Avenue).
  • Light Rail to Sky Harbor Airport -



For those staying at the Graduate Hotel -overnight parking is free for guests but please be sure to let them know otherwise you may be ticketed.

Street parking (metered parking) is also available at ASU. (see map for Visitor parking- rates will vary for 1 – 2 hours and whole day rates )

Parking validation will be provided during the conference period. Please remember to let us know by Jan 31st 2018 if you need one, and bring in your parking ticket for validation by the conference staff.



The workshop is bringing together participants from nearly all continents and a diversity of backgrounds and expertise; a well-balanced mix between academia, small and thriving businesses, and NGOs, where we will all imagine and build new approaches to energy innovation that simultaneously address the UN Sustainable Development Goals of ending global poverty and providing sustainable energy to all.


Simon TraceSimon Trace

Keynote 1: Simon Trace CBE C.Eng, M.CWIEM

Simon Trace is currently Principal Consultant, Natural Resources & Energy, at Oxford Policy Management. Prior to that, Trace spent 16 years in senior executive positions in international NGOs, 10 as CEO of Practical Action, providing oversight and technical input for a number of high-profile energy sector publications, frameworks and strategies (SE4ALL GTF, RISE, WEO, PPEO). Trace is an accomplished, published writer and commentator on technology and development who has spent 10 years living in Africa and Asia. He also serves as an advisor to the UK Government’s £1.5 billion Global Research Challenge Fund. He is considered a global expert on energy access policy and delivery, water, sanitation and hygiene promotion, natural resource management, organizational governance, leadership and strategy development. Trace’s work has impacted people in over 20 countries across 3 continents. 

Jim Rogers

Keynote 2: Jim Rogers

Jim Rogers is the co-founder of Global BrightLight Foundation which aims to bring safe, healthy and cost effective solar power to people living without access to electricity. He is the author of the book “Lighting the World: Transforming Our Energy Future by Bringing Electricity to Everyone”, which outlines the state of energy poverty, and suggests that addressing this issue offers great potential for improving people’s lives in low income nations. The book also addresses the idea that reverse engineering this effort will teach us a lot about how to transform the grids of the high-income nations to better fit the environmental needs of the future. Rogers retired as President, CEO and Chairman of Duke Energy in 2013, and has held leadership positions in the US utility industry for over three decades.


Engaged conversations and panelists

(Speakers will layout the agenda for furthering deeper discussions)

Social Value in Energy Innovations (Saurabh Biswas; School of Sustainability, ASU and Carlo Altamirano-Allende; School for the Future of Innovation in Society, ASU)

Engaging communities in Energy Innovation (Scott Kennedy; Executive Director, Energy Action Partners)

Incubating Enterprises for Energy Innovation (Keith Warner; Senior Director, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, Santa Clara University, Ana Coll; Innovation and Strategy Director, Iluméxico & Kaci McCartan; Technology Analyst, Accenture)

Models of Innovation Enterprises (Parikhit Sinha; Director Sustainable Development, First Solar)

Scaling effective energy innovation ecosystems. (Nigel Moore; Manager Global Programs and Initiatives, Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy)


Participant information

The workshop is bringing together participants from nearly all continents and a diversity of backgrounds and expertise; a well-balanced mix between academia, small and thriving businesses, and NGOs, where we will all imagine and build new approaches to energy innovation that simultaneously address the UN Sustainable Development Goals of ending global poverty and providing sustainable energy to all.

To facilitate constructive dialogue and idea generation cutting across disciplinary boundaries, non-traditional and multiple engagement formats have been incorporated. All participants will contribute to all or at least one of the following forums during the workshop:

  1. Roundtables: All participants will be part of small groups of 5 -7, deliberating on the driving questions put forth, over the course of the workshop. The groups will be a mix of backgrounds and skills, with participants taking on roles of moderators, stakeholders and rapporteurs. The ideas emerging from these intensive discussions would form the bulk of the joint publications resulting from the workshop.
  2. Engaging conversations: As a prelude to the roundtables and to provoke ideas, selected speakers would spark the conversation with their presentations. Based on their own experiences and the challenges they have come across; these talks would highlight the journey of certain projects or ideas and what could be learnt.
  3. Entrepreneurs Panel: Another tone setting activity with a set of creative entrepreneurs and innovators talking about their journeys and insights, in a moderated discussion. Selected participants will sit down with a facilitator for a chat in front of the room, gradually transitioning to the roundtables.
  4. Facilitated discussion: In the spirit of collaborative knowledge creation, two of our participants will be presenting a concept and invite constructive comments. They will ask for inputs from the room on an idea/concept they have been working on, utilizing those inputs to further enrich the proposal.
  5. POWER talks: 7 minutes long, these will be fun, informal and a quick sharing of ideas. Organized as an after-dinner activity, some of our participants will be sharing their innovative and impactful work. This will be another platform to spread the word on the good work some of our participant are doing. The audience can vote to select the best of these and encourage them to do even better!
  • Guidelines for Speakers: These are short talks with what we hope to be powerful messages that we can organize and act on to alleviate poverty through energy innovation. The talks should be the opposite of a dry talk with facts and figures. These talks need to be about speaking to people’s emotions and empathy. They can be stories or comprised of lessons learned. Good talks tend to be about the person giving the talk, not in a narcissistic sort of way, but about what the speaker has learned, experience, tried, succeeded in, failed at.
  • Rules for your talk: The only firm rule for your talk is that it will be limited to no more than seven (7) minutes. There will be a timer right in front of you counting down, and you will be cut off when time is up. This is strict! For some good guidelines on how to think about and prepare for this talk, you might want to think through these guidelines given to those speaking at TED or TEDx events: You can use slides or props if you want, but they aren’t necessary.
  • Poster sessions: Individual research, projects, initiatives etc. will find space in the event through posters that will be displayed around the venue. This will give all participants the chance to know each other’s work and have more individualized exchanges. Specific time slots for posters presentations will be allocated. Selected participants are working on bringing their posters to the event.
    • Poster Guidelines: Please ensure your posters are not larger than 30 inches x 40 inches. Presenters will have the opportunity to talk about the posters at a designated poster session during the day. However, your poster will be displayed at the venue through the day. Thus, it is suggested that the content be so arranged that it communicates the core idea through visuals and texts.
  • Show and Tell - Projects & Products: Highlighting projects, devices, initiatives and innovations some of the participants are engaged in around the world. Demonstrations and displays will provide an opportunity for all participant to get a firsthand, engaged experience of these impactful innovations.
    • Guidelines for Presenters: You will have a table during the dinner on Feb 13th, to demonstrate your product or project. We suggest making it as interactive and engaging as possible. Feel free to use models, replicas, videos, pictures, testimonies or anything that you think will communicate effectively.
  • Networking breaks will be an opportunity to mingle with and know your global peers better. We look forward to engaging and thought-provoking contributions from all.
  • Pre-meeting reads


    Background Documents

    Day 1: (Monday, Feb. 12) – Creating Social Value through Energy Innovation

    10 am – 12 pm:           Registration

    12 pm:                         Lunch

    12:30 pm:                    Welcome and Introductions

    Clark Miller, Director, Center for Energy & Society, ASU

    1:30 pm:                      Keynote Address

    Simon Trace, Principal Consultant, Natural Resources and Energy, Oxford Policy Management

    Introduced by Nalini Chhetri, Assistant Director, SFIS, ASU

    2:45 pm:                      Networking Break

    3:15 pm:                      Social Value in Energy Innovation

    Saurabh Biswas, School of Sustainability, ASU

    Carlo Altamirano-Allende, SFIS, ASU

    3:30 pm:                      Entrepreneur’s Panel: Creating Social Value for Communities

    Ana Lucia Col Guzmán, Innovation and Strategy Manager, Iluméxico

    *Nalini Chhetri, Assistant Director, SFIS, ASU

    *Elizabeth Monoian, Founding Co-Director, Land Art Generator Initiative

    Tonya Ensign, Global Leadership Executive Coach, Fluidic Energy

    Facilitated by Stacia Dreyer, Assistant Professor, SFIS, ASU


    4:30 pm:                      Roundtable Discussions: Creating Social Value

    • How can energy innovation create social value?
    • What are useful and productive examples of communities using diverse forms of energy to create social value?
    • What best practices enable success in identifying and taking advantage of opportunities to create social value?

    5 pm:                           Posters: Cutting Edge Research in Energy Innovation


    7 pm:                           Dinner on your own

    Day 2: (Tuesday, Feb. 13) -  Communities, Enterprises and Energy Innovation

    7:30 am:                      Breakfast available

    8:30 am:                      Engaging Communities in Energy Innovation

    Scott Kennedy, Executive Director, Energy Action Partners

    Facilitated by Mary Jane Parmentier, Director, Global Technology & Development, ASU

    9:30 am:                      Roundtable Discussions: Engaging Communities

    • What makes communities passionate to pursue energy innovation?
    • What are the best practices for empowering and engaging communities in the design of energy projects?

    10 am:                         Networking Break

    10:30 am:                    Accelerating Enterprises for Energy Innovation

    Keith Warner, Senior Director, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, Santa Clara University

    Ana Lucia Col Guzmán, Innovation and Strategy Director, Iluméxico

    Kaci McCartan, Technology Analyst, Accenture

    11:30 am:                    Roundtable Discussions: Creating and Supporting Enterprises

    • How do we organize effectively to imagine, design, build, and operate energy enterprises that deliver social value?
    • What are best practices in incubating and accelerating enterprise development?

    12 pm:                         Posters: Cutting Edge Research in Energy Innovation


    2 pm:                           Entrepreneur’s Panel: Enterprise Strategies

    Parikhit Sinha, Director, Sustainable Development, First Solar

    Steve Katsaros, CEO, Nokero

    Jeevan Baidya, Solar Project Manager, Sunbridge Solar Nepal

    Facilitated by Netra Chhetri, Director, Center for Innovation and Development, ASU

    3 pm:                           Roundtable Discussions: Business and Ownership Models

    • How do we create effective business models that foster social value creation?
    • Who are the key stakeholders in these business models?
    • How to foster greater opportunities for local ownership that reinvest in community success?

    3:30 pm:                      Networking Break

    4 pm:                           Energy Innovation and Disaster Response: The Case of Puerto Rico

    Organized by Marla Perez Lugo and Cecilio Ortiz, Co-Directors, National Institute for Energy and Island Sustainability (INESI), University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez

    5 pm:                           Show and Tell: Energy Innovation and Poverty Eradication


    Show and Tell Participants Include:

    Laura Hosman, Director, SolarSPELL

    Steve Katsaros, CEO, Nokero

    Michelle Jordan, Education Director, Quantum Electrodynamics and Sustainable Solar Technology Research Center

    Marla Perez Lugo and Cecilio Ortiz, co-directors, RISE-Puerto Rico

    Sayfe Kiaei, PI, US-Pakistan Centers for Advanced Studies in Energy

    Saleh Ahmed, University of Arizona

    Alexandra Mallett, School of Public Policy and Administration(SPAA),Carleton University

    Carlos Tornel, Iniciativa Climática México

    Balachandra Patil, Indian Institute of Science

    8 pm:                           POWERtalks

                                        Participants Include: (*Confirmed)

    *Dominique Pride, University of Alaska

    *Nikki Avila, University of California-Berkeley

    *Suyesh Prajapati, MinErgy Nepal

    *Robert Ferry, Land Art Generator Initiative

                                                    *Alex Eaton, Sistema Biobolsa

                                                    *Ruth Santiago, Comité Diálogo Ambiental

    *Sumanta Sharma, Government of Uttarakhand (India)

    Day 3: (Wednesday, Feb. 14) – Supporting energy innovation to maximize social value.

    7:30 am:                      Breakfast Begins

    8:30 am:                      Keynote Address

    Jim Rogers, Co-Founder, Global BrightLight Foundation

    Introduced by Clark Miller

    9:30 am:                      Scaling Effective Energy Innovation Ecosystems

    Organized by Nigel Moore, Manager, Global Programs and Initiatives, Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy

    10:30 am:                    Roundtable Discussions: Policy and Governance Innovation

    • What are the key lessons learned over the past two days about how to create social value through energy innovation and the enterprises to support it?
    • How can broader policy and governance innovation support such enterprises and their work?
    • What roles should governments, development banks, utilities, and others play in supporting off-grid energy innovation?


    12 pm:                         Conference Wrap-Up