UpEnergy Signs Cornerstone Deal to Sell Carbon Credits to Swedish Government

UpEnergy recently signed a contract to sell a 500,000 UN-backed carbon credits, so called certified emission reductions (CERs), from the company’s Uganda project to the Swedish government.

These credits will be delivered on an annual basis, and offer near full price security for carbon credits derived from efficient cookstoves in Uganda through 2021.

In a commodities market that has become increasingly volatile, this deal offers UpEnergy the stability and attractive pricing needed for the company to focus on what is most important: selling efficient household energy products to those most in need in Uganda.

Amid market oversupply, the open market price for CERs has sunk to around 0.40 Euros from over 20 Euros five years ago. The transaction with the Swedish government secures UpEnergy’s ability to sell CERs at prices significantly above the current market rate. For more information, see the Thomson Reuters Point Carbon article about the transaction here.

UpEnergy Sells Affordable Water Filters

In October 2013, UpEnergy partnered with Impact Carbon to bring affordable Tulip Water Filters to households in Uganda. At substantially lower cost than that of alternative filters available in local outlets, the Tulip Water Filter makes clean water affordable for the estimated 9.6 million Ugandans who are currently living without access to potable water.

The Tulip water filter is a point-of-use intervention. It is a candle-type water filter which uses gravity siphon pressure to force water through a high-quality ceramic filter element. The innovative usage of the siphon results in a high flow rate of 4-5 liters per hour. The filter is impregnated with silver in order to increase the bacterial removal efficiency of the filter and to reduce the re-contamination risk of stored filtered water.

The Tulip filter has been tested using a certified method by ‘Waterlaboratorium Noord’, an independent laboratory based in the Netherlands. It was found that even after passing 7.000 liters the filter still removed E. Coli by more than 99,99%!

UpEnergy is proud to deliver these life-saving technologies to households in Uganda at affordable prices. If you are interested in purchasing Tulip Water Filters in Uganda, please contact us.

The Tulip Water Filter now sold in Uganda by UpEnergy


UpEnergy registers Central America Program of Activities (PoA) under CDM scheme

UpEnergy recently successfully registered its first Program of Activities (PoA) under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The program  will serve as an open-access platform, enabling wood and charcoal-burning cookstove manufacturers and project developers to benefit from carbon crediting in the region.

UpEnergy will serve as the Coordinating and Managing Entity for the program which includes El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Mexico. UpEnergy welcomes inquiries from stove suppliers, manufacturers and distributors to take part in this program.

UpEnergy’s program is one of the only cookstove CDM programs to be registered in Central America that will generate European Union Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS) eligible carbon credits. Programs registered after 31 December, 2012 that are not in Least Developed Countries, as is the case for Central American countries, are not EU ETS-eligible.

UpEnergy attends 2013 Unreasonable Institute Fellowship

UpEnergy’s Mark Mutaahi and Nicole Ballin recently completed the 2013 Unreasonable Institute – a 6 week intensive incubator program for social enterprises in Boulder, CO. The Unreasonable Institute (http://unreasonableinstitute.org/2013-institute/) selected UpEnergy from over 227 applications from 47 countries. Mark and Nicole were given  access to an impressive roster of mentors including Paul Polak, Chip Heath, and many more. In addition, UpEnergy was given the opportunity to present their businesses at the Unreasonable Climax event where Mark presented to a crowd of over 900 people! You can see his full presentation here.

Mark and Nicole would like to thank their sponsors for making this life-changing experience possible!

2013 Unreasonable Fellows: Mark Mutaahi and Nicole Ballin

UpEnergy’s Nicole Ballin contributes to Lean Impact Blog

UpEnergy’s Chief Operating Officer discusses tips for implementing Lean Principles in social impact work through a blog post on Lean Impact (http://www.leanimpact.org/). Lean Impact is a non-profit organization that promotes the application of principles from Eric Ries’s book, The Lean Startup, to the social sector. The article shares how UpEnergy uses the principles of rapid iteration and minimum viable products to test sales interventions in the field and “learn fast”. View the article here.


UpEnergy’s Nicole Ballin profiled in the Haas School of Business “Alumni Spotlight”

Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley

Alumni Spotlight

Nicole Ballin, MBA 10

Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer of UpEnergy


My finance career at a social enterprise:
I started my career in finance and, like so many others before me, couldn’t find enough personal meaning in my work. I broke away to attend Haas and I’m so glad that I did. The grass is definitely greener where I am now in my career. UpEnergy is a social enterprise based in San Francisco that fights poverty, improves health, and protects forests by making clean energy technologies available to people in the developing world.

Read Nicole’s Alumni Spotlight profile.

Leading periodical publishes case for UpEnergy’s business plan

UpEnergy’s Managing Director recently wrote an article for Carbon Finance, a leading monthly publication providing in-depth coverage and analysis of the global carbon markets (http://www.carbon-financeonline.com). The article makes the case for UpEnergy’s business plan and why few market actors are well positioned to thrive post-2012 in this changing market.  View the article here.

UpEnergy’s Managing Director presents at Harvard

On Wednesday, July 25 UpEnergy’s Managing Director, Erik Wurster, presented the company and business model to students at Harvard during a 90 minute brownbag discussion. See the slides here:


Carbon Traders Feel Wind in Their Faces Biking to Expo

UpEnergy’s own Erik Wurster attended the recent Carbon Expo 2012 in Cologne, Germany.  He was also a happy participant of the pre-conference Eneco CO2 Bike Tour.  Eneco, an UpEnergy partner, sponsored a bike ride for conference participants from their headquarters in the Netherlands to the conference in Germany.  Both the bike ride and the conference were enlightening, community building events and Erik flew back home to Rwanda excited and energized.   For more information on the conference and bike ride, please read the Bloomberg article below.

The road from Rotterdam to Cologne is lined with ancient Roman forts, quaint Dutch villages and German industrial facilities. Three dozen bankers, traders, policy experts and I noted these and much else on a three-day, 360-kilometer (224-mile) cycling trip organized as a prelude to a major annual climate change finance event.

We biked more than 100 kilometers through the Netherlands on the first day, snaking along artificial levees built to keep out the North Sea and windmills built to pump water off land. Experts from around the world are converging in Cologne, Germany, this week for the Carbon Expo, a conference charged with finding ways to boost direct investment into greenhouse-gas emissions-cutting projects in a fractured global policy environment. Even as global climate policy has faltered, Australia, China, New Zealand, South Korea and California are among the latest group of governments that are, or shortly will be, road-testing markets for tradable CO2 pollution credits.

Riders representing 16 different nationalities joined the ride for various reasons. Some are bankers, traders and brokers, who help finance carbon-reduction projects, or find buyers, mostly in Europe, for the carbon-emission credits they generate. Some cyclists are developing methodologies to measure and verify carbon pollution reductions. Fernando Bucheli, an Ecuadorian diplomat, is working to build international support to avoid tapping the 846 million barrels of oil resting under the country’s Yasuni National Park. The government estimates that the oil is worth about $7 billion. If left unburned, it would avoid more than 400 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. And if the forests were left intact that would save an additional 800 million tons of emissions. Yasuni boasts one of the world’s richest biodiversity hotspots and is home to the remote Tagaeri and Taromenane tribes. Eneco NV, a Dutch utility, organized the ride.

Just over the German border, on day two, we passed Wunderland Kalkar, a would-be nuclear power station that was abandoned before its completion. In 1996 it was converted into a hotel and theme park, featuring water rides and roller coasters.

On the final day, we hit the Rhine River and peddled through Germany’s industrial heart. Factories and power stations towered over us to one side as the river, the life blood of Europe’s biggest emitter, flowed on the other. Our tires rolled through coal dust that litters the ground between barges and riverside power stations — the same carbon dust these traders and bankers are trying to clean up through better-functioning markets.


Article from Bloomberg: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-31/carbon-traders-feel-wind-in-their-faces-biking-to-expo.html

Author: Catherine Airlie

A Story from the Field: Aaron Okello

Profile: Aaron Okello – UpEnergy’s top selling retailer of wood-burning cookstoves in Uganda.

Energy efficient cookstoves are well recognized for reducing deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and hazardous indoor air pollutants.  Aaron’s story, however, demonstrates their additional potential to create livelihoods in the communities in which they are sold. Through UpEnergy’s investment in local micro-entrepreneurs – such as training in effective sales techniques, logistical support and robust profit margins – Aaron has created a thriving clean cookstove business, elevating him and his family out of poverty.

Aaron headed to market, bike loaded with UpEnergy stoves.

As a child, Aaron lost his mother, father, and seven siblings to AIDS.  He was forced to drop out of school and struggled to make ends meet as an uneducated and illiterate adolescent.  As an adult, Aaron moved 400km from his village to Kampala to find work, leaving behind his wife and children. Aaron cycled through careers as a tailor and motorcycle taxi driver but was still unable to earn enough to reunite him with his family.  Undeterred, Aaron studied theology at night and learned how to read and write Luganda and English.  He believed that he was working towards an opportunity that would allow his family to join him in the city and pull the family out of poverty.

As a motorcycle taxi driver, Aaron found himself giving a ride to an UpEnergy staff member in Kampala. As they made small talk about the cookstove industry, the conversation quickly turned to gold as Aaron recognized the opportunity; his business mind and gumption prompted him to inquire about buying and selling stoves.  That day Aaron started his business with a single UpEnergy stove and in the following five months, grew his business to represent 8% of UpEnergy’s total cookstove sales.  Through an extensive and growing sales network, Aaron Okello offers significant supplementary income to 15 micro-entrepreneurs.  He has grown his offerings to include solar products and wood and is expanding his operations around Uganda.  Aaron’s determination, along with support from UpEnergy, has created an alternative to the future that Aaron and his family faced.  He has since reunited with his family and moved everyone in to a two-bedroom house in Kampala.  He is also able to pay for an excellent private school education for his children and has made good on his wife’s dowry – an important step towards respect in Ugandan culture.

Aaron’s success story is just one example of how lives can be drastically transformed when entrepreneurial drive, determination, and UpEnergy team up.