ACT is looking for social entrepreneurs who are solving for India’s energy efficiency challenges

India is the third-largest consumer of energy in the world and will account for 25% of the growth in global energy demand from 2019 to 2040. Propelled by rapid urbanisation and industrialization, energy consumption in India has experienced a twofold increase since 2000 and projections indicate a 5% annual growth until 2040. However, regional disparities in energy consumption persist, with variations across states and among rural and urban areas. The reliance of the economy on the energy sector, coupled with escalating demand, has positioned the energy landscape as a critical focus area for India’s net zero ambitions.

India’s energy consumption can be categorised into five key areas, each playing a pivotal role in shaping overall usage: power generation, industrial production & processes, transportation, building usage and agriculture usage. Even though power generation and industrial usage constitute the bulk of energy consumption, transport related energy demand has grown 3.5 times and demand in buildings has grown by 40% since 2000. Although agriculture is relatively the smallest consumer of energy, electricity consumed in agriculture can go up to 50% of total consumption in some states.

But while India’s increasing energy imports to meet this surge in demand have spurred a concerted effort towards the expansion of renewable energy sources, we are facing formidable challenges:

High Transmission and Distribution (T&D) Losses: The prevalence of significant T&D losses hampers the ability of distribution companies (DisComs) to make bold and decisive investments in renewables. Addressing these losses is crucial to creating an environment conducive to renewable energy adoption.

Low Energy Storage Capacity: The growth of renewable energy has outpaced advancements in energy storage technology. The lack of commensurate progress in storage capabilities poses a bottleneck to the seamless integration of renewables into the energy grid. A focused approach is needed to accelerate the development of efficient energy storage solutions.

Recycling and Reuse Applications: While renewable energy sources have proliferated, there is a concurrent need to enhance efforts in recycling and reusing associated components. A holistic approach to sustainable practices should encompass not only energy production but also the management of materials involved in the renewable energy lifecycle.

What We’re Looking For

ACT For Environment will now also be looking at energy transition as a key area of investment focus and we’re looking to prioritise 3 pivotal spheres to help catalyse an outsized climate impact at scale:

Waste to energy / alternative fuels; given intermittency and wastage issues with renewables
Battery recycling & new battery chemistries; given that the current market dominated by lithium ion batteries which which have large environment & human costs
Distributed renewable energy (DRE); given the need to enable access to energy and livelihoods for rural India
Energy efficiency solutions for businesses; given that industrial energy consumption is the highest

We’ll also be looking to strengthen these innovations through a collaborative approach, by uniting the private sector, public institutions, and specialised research and policy partners in a collective effort to drive lasting impact.

If you’re a social entrepreneur working on an innovative energy solution in any of the above areas, submit your grant application here!

ACT For Health renews its support to Periwinkle Technologies

Cervical cancer is a critical public health issue in India, which has one of the world’s highest incidence rates and ranking as the second-most common cancer affecting women in the country. It leads to over 67,000 deaths annually, claiming a woman’s life every 8 minutes. Limited access to screening, a shortage of healthcare resources, and a lack of awareness regarding preventive measures, particularly among women from marginalised communities, are some of the factors leading to this alarming situation.

Recognising the urgency of addressing this issue, ACT For Health has been supporting Periwinkle Technologies, a medtech startup that is on a mission to make India cervical cancer-free. Their innovative solution, the Smart Scope® CX, is an AI-powered handheld point-of-care digital device that enables health workers to detect cervical cancer at an early stage. This device serves as a single-visit alternative to traditional methods like pap smear and colposcopy, which are fraught with issues such as high dependence on trained professionals, cost-intensive infrastructure requirements, and lengthy turnaround times.

In stark contrast, the Smart Scope® CX efficiently captures images of the cervix and eliminates the need for electricity, space, or additional infrastructure. Its built-in AI component analyses these images to deliver results within 10-15 minutes and significantly reduces the dependence on trained professionals. The device can be easily used by healthcare workers at the last mile and allows for remote triaging of the results by experts. The Smart Scope® CX enables early detection of cervical cancer, reducing the morbidity and high mortality caused by late-stage diagnosis and propels significant technological advancements in addressing critical gaps in public health systems.

Over the last year, Periwinkle has demonstrated the efficacy of its solution by successfully screening over 1500 women in Chattisgarh. These early pilots helped validate the effectiveness of Periwinkle’s solution and provided learnings on how this can be deployed in public health settings.

ACT For Health is excited to renew its support for Periwinkle through a follow-on scale-up grant. The aim is to build on the learnings from earlier pilots by conducting on-ground cervical cancer screening in Primary Health Centres (PHCs) across both rural and urban settings across multiple states in India. The objective is to showcase the benefits of using Periwinkle’s Smart Scope® CX device in public health settings, esp. PHCs, and achieve scalability within the public health system. This grant will play a pivotal role in expanding Periwinkle’s deployments in Maharashtra, Manipur, and Jharkhand in collaboration with ACT For Health’s implementation partners to unlock state-wide takeup within the public health system.

ACT Capital Foundation For Social Impact is a not-for-profit company incorporated and registered under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013. All donations made to ACT Capital Foundation are eligible for income tax deduction under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act.

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