The selection of Kitepower in the United Nations (UN) World Food Programme (WFP) Innovation Accelerator bootcamp presented a promising opportunity to demonstrate the potential of airborne wind energy (AWE) systems in providing sustainable and reliable electricity to support humanitarian operations in remote and disaster-prone locations. Kitepower aims to further collaborate with WFP in future to demonstrate the potential of AWE in tackling some of the world’s most urgent issues, including the global food crisis and climate emergency.
By participating in the WFP Innovation Accelerator’s February bootcamp, Kitepower had the opportunity to leverage the resources and support of the Accelerator and its team to further develop its technology and expand its network. This intensive bootcamp provided Kitepower with valuable training, helped refine their pitch and developed a strong project plan that aligns with the goals and objectives of WFP. As part of the bootcamp activities, Kitepower also had the opportunity to present the innovative AWE solution to potential funders and partners, government officials, industry leaders and WFP staff at the WFP Innovation Accelerator Pitch Event.
The UN WFP Innovation Accelerator
The WFP Innovation Accelerator focuses on identifying, supporting and scaling innovations that have the potential to transform the food and humanitarian sectors. It has a strong commitment to working with innovators and entrepreneurs who are developing scalable solutions that can help communities become self-reliant, resilient, and sustainable. The Accelerator has already supported the development of numerous successful innovations that have helped to address hunger and humanitarian challenges around the world.
The WFP Innovation Accelerator is structured to provide innovators with the necessary resources and support to turn their ideas into tangible solutions that can have a real impact on global hunger and humanitarian challenges. It provides mentorship from industry experts, and access to the world’s largest humanitarian organization. Successful innovation teams also have the opportunity to receive up to US $100,000 in equity-free funding.
By supporting innovation, the WFP Innovation Accelerator is helping to accelerate progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 2, which seeks to end hunger, achieve food security, and improve nutrition.
How Kitepower Could Support WFP and SDG2 in the Short Term
Kitepower offers a versatile solution that not only addresses the climate crisis but also provides mobile electricity units for disaster relief, remote camps, and off-grid communities. Based on the work undertaken at the recent WFP Innovation Accelerator bootcamp, the Kitepower system was seen to be especially valuable to WFP in two ways:
Firstly, WFP has numerous logistical tasks that require electricity, including storing, transporting, and distributing food all over the world, with the help of approximately 80 country offices. Here, Kitepower could provide reliable electricity to off-grid logistic points and country offices, reducing reliance on diesel generators. Within 2 days of optimal operation, a Kitepower system would already be capable of generating sufficient renewable power to support 30,000 displaced individuals in a refugee camp.
Secondly, in first responder situations, the Kitepower system can meet the requirement of being available within 72 hours. With Kitepower systems at every WFP country office and first responder location, rapid deployment can be achieved globally. The need for electricity is not limited to the WFP’s first responder operations. Electricity is essential for food preparation, replacing charcoal, and providing cooking facilities to refugee camps. In camps, electricity is often inaccessible to 90% of the population. Access to electricity can also reduce post-harvest losses and improve farming productivity, including irrigation systems, electrical machines, and vehicles.
How Kitepower Could Support WFP and Multiple SDGs in Future
Kitepower’s technology aligns with many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which act as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure peace and prosperity. If Kitepower participates in a future WFP Innovation Accelerator Sprint Programme, more work can be done to develop and extend potential solutions across various WFP contexts, in line with multiple SDGs. Some examples are outlined below.
Many farmers in developing countries rely on manual labor and traditional farming techniques, which can be inefficient and labor-intensive. Access to electricity provides enormous benefits linked to ending hunger and promoting economic development.. For example, electricity enables farmers to use modern tools and equipment, such as irrigation systems, tractors, and grain mills, that can increase crop yields and reduce labor costs. This, in turn, can increase food production and help reduce hunger (SDG 2).
By providing renewable power, Kitepower could also help to improve the shelf life of perishable food with electricity-powered cooling, reducing food waste, and increasing food safety (SDG 2.1). Additionally, renewable power helps small-scale food producers, in particular indigenous peoples, smallholder farmers, pastoralists, and fishers, to access better inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets, and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment (SDG 2.3). Moreover, the development of sustainable irrigation systems that can preserve water consumption and help agricultural communities deal with extreme drought or precipitation, facilitated by renewable power, can help to ensure the sustainable integrity of the food systems (SDG 2.4).
Kitepower’s Airborne Wind Energy Systems (AWES) provide a zero-emission capability to produce renewable power (SDG 7) for use throughout off-grid locations and remote communities, contributing to fight climate change (SDG 13) and end hunger in developing countries (SDG 2).The limited access to electricity in many communities around the world significantly hinders access to education and economic opportunities. Unfortunately, women and ethnic minorities are often the ones who bear the brunt of this issue. By providing renewable electricity to these communities, Kitepower can help to bridge this gap and enable access to education and business opportunities that were previously out of reach. This can go a long way in advancing people’s livelihoods and promoting greater equality and inclusivity (SDG 4; SDG 5).