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Great Energy Challenge Grantee: Green Empowerment

Project: Sparking Indigenous Entrepeneurship in Clean Energy

Location: Sabah, Malaysian Borneo

Summary: Green Empowerment and the indigenous community-based organization Friends of Village Development (TONIBUNG) seek to develop their capacity to provide marginalized communities with affordable access to clean energy and stimulate local innovation and entrepreneurship. TONIBUNG and Green Empowerment have established a partnership implementing community-based micro-hydro development in Malaysian Borneo that has lasted for over 10 years.

Sabah-based TONIBUNG and Green Empowerment aim to build an effective training facility and program, with a certified micro-hydro assembly plant, based out of an existing community center in the Kadazan village of Nampasan in Malaysian Borneo. By the beginning of 2014, TONIBUNG and Green Empowerment will have provided 15 Malaysian indigenous youth with the necessary skills to design and implement micro-hydro projects for the benefit of their communities, and will have trained 10 indigenous engineers in micro-hydro turbine assembly. These trainees will be part of a team who, by 2014, will have assembled and deployed these turbines at three different villages across the Malaysian states, providing renewable electricity to a total of over 1000 indigenous community members.

With the finalization of the business plan and sustained funding over a maximum of four years, the assembly and training center will be able to independently finance its activities through sales of micro hydro turbines, fee-for-service training, a cottage industry development model that lifts the purchasing power of project beneficiaries, and through Malaysia's feed-in-tariff system. The center will continue to be a resource for indigenous community members, renewable energy entrepreneurs, non-profit workers and international renewable energy practitioners. The center will also continue to serve as a launch pad and incubator for future community-based renewable energy project development.

Goal: Build on the capacity of indigenous community organizations to construct, manage, and finance renewable energy projects by developing a village-based training program and micro-hydro assembly plant.

Project participants:

The Great Energy Challenge grant program, in collaboration with a distinguished group of scientists acting as the board of advisors, awards roughly a half-dozen grants per year. The goal of the grant program is to hasten the growth of promising, global energy solutions as a response to climate change, energy resource constraints and environmental limitations.

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