The IEEE Power Electronics Society (PELS) earned a 2019 ASAE Power of A Summit Award for its Empower a Billion Lives initiative, a global competition fostering innovation to develop solutions to electricity access to the three billion people living in energy poverty, including 1.1 billion people without any access to electricity.

ASAE honored the program that was founded by the IEEE Power Electronics Society through roundtable discussions among the volunteer leadership of the Power Electronics Society and the World Bank, USAID, and other international non-governmental organizations to address this challenge utilizing the technical and volunteer strength of IEEE. Winning solutions are scalable, regionally relevant, holistic, and leverage 21st century technologies with exponentially declining prices.

The IEEE Empower a Billion Lives competition is agnostic to energy sources, technologies, and business models. Evaluation of solutions include both technical innovation and business viability to rapidly and sustainably scale to one billion customers.

In August 2018, 459 Teams registered for the competition, including 120 student teams and teams from over 70 countries. Between August and October, nearly 100 expert reviewers from the IEEE PELS volunteer base accepted 82 proposals. Teams then traveled to a regional round held in Shenzhen, China; Chennai, India; Johannesburg, South Africa; Seville, Spain; and, Atlanta, Georgia, US. There teams engaged in poster sessions, “shark tank” style presentations, and demonstrations. Twenty-three teams won at the regional level and will now field-test their solution in a community that has no access to energy services; and, where people have an income of less than $1.90 per day.

IEEE volunteers from regional sections and chapters and the regional and global steering committees who are technology and energy access experts will continue to provide the expertise in reviewing the technology, field-testing data, business and scaling plan. The teams will then compete in the Global Final at the IEEE-PELS ECCE Conference in late September 2019. This global challenge to accelerate access to energy solutions is possible with the time and effort of IEEE PELS association volunteers and the financial support of IEEE PELS, the IEEE Foundation, and a score of supporting organizations and donors.

ASAE’s Power of A (association) Awards, the industry’s highest honor, recognize the association community’s valuable contributions on the local, national and global levels.  The Power of A Awards reward the outstanding accomplishments of associations and industry professionals who work tirelessly to solve problems, and strengthen lives, the workforce, the economy, and the world.