Enhancing Project Integrity: MicroEnergy Credits’ Engagement with BeZero on Mongolia Program Rating

7th May 2024

As the voluntary carbon market landscape continues to evolve, the most important conversation continues to be around integrity, of carbon projects as well as carbon claims made by corporates. The emergence of rating agencies in the market is a welcome step towards enhancing the credibility of carbon programs and trust within the market. MicroEnergy Credits shares this vision of the rating agencies and is dedicated to upholding the highest standards of integrity and transparency in our carbon program, and our active collaboration with BeZero Carbon on the rating of our Mongolia program exemplifies this commitment.

Let’s delve deeper into the nuances and different aspects of BeZero’s rating process as it pertains to our Mongolia program, as understood through active engagement between MEC and BeZero:

  1. Pioneering Efforts Acknowledged: BeZero recognized our Mongolia program as being the first of its kind in an area where efficient heating furnace options were previously unavailable. This acknowledgment highlights the innovative nature of our program.
  2. High Ranking VPAs: BeZero noted that the VPAs in MEC’s Mongolia program rank impressively within the sector of household device projects. BeZero particularly emphasized the evidence that the project’s credits were not at risk of over-crediting and non-permanence, scoring above 80% and 78%, respectively. BeZero has stated that within all rated household devices projects, the MEC projects[i], with their BB rating, sit at the higher end of the distribution.

Rating Distribution of Rated Household Devices Projects by BeZero

  1. Effective Risk Management: BeZero recognized our approach to managing over-crediting risks through seasonal Kitchen Performance Tests (KPTs), demonstrating our commitment to ensuring that our projects align with robust monitoring practices, in line with sector science. MEC carries out Kitchen Performance Tests in both dry and wet seasons to establish any difference in use. The conservative value between the wood used in any of these seasons is used for calculating the emission reductions.
  2. Transparent Additionality: MEC has provided comprehensive information on program additionality, publicly available on its website, addressing concerns and prompting updates to the rating brief. Our detailed investment analysis has been instrumental in resolving ambiguities and enhancing transparency.
  3. Ongoing Work by BeZero on the Vintage Split Model: Currently, BeZero does not follow a vintage split model, and evaluates projects across all vintages in one sweep. This means that a monitoring report from 2013 is bringing down the rating of a vintage 2019 credit, even though there have been many monitoring reports in the interim that showed the issue had been resolved.  There is a monitoring report from 2013 from the beginning of the program that showed that end users were loading the furnaces improperly. MEC solved the problem in the same year with an end-user campaign (made possible with the help of carbon finance). Subsequent audits showed good practices. BeZero has acknowledged this, although the rating does not reflect this improvement. BeZero's near-future plans to assess projects by vintage are expected to provide a more accurate representation of our program's evolution.
  4. Addressing Additionality Concerns: BeZero acknowledged that the MEC projects are not common practice and are indeed additional. However, BeZero did not give the project the highest rating for additionality because the project used a subsidy provided by government actors as a separate co-financing.  BeZero alleges that the subsidy could have caused the efficient furnaces to later become common practice. BeZero acknowledged that co-financing is a common best practice in the development sector. Not allowing the subsidy would have meant less climate action, as at-risk communities need the added impetus of co-financing and subsidies to adopt new clean energy technologies. Moreover, subsidies for a project do not make the generated verified emission reductions from the project any less valuable. We hope that BeZero will adopt a different approach in the future to accepting cofinancing without decreasing a project rating.
  5. Commitment to Continuous Improvement: BeZero has acknowledged improvements observed in the second crediting period of our program, due to MEC's enhanced monitoring protocols.

At MEC, we remain steadfast in our commitment to rigorously upholding the integrity of our carbon programs. While the rating for our Mongolia project remains unchanged for now, engagement with BeZero and efforts to address the current rating are ongoing. The process has provided invaluable insights that will continue to inform our future endeavours. MEC is committed to actively considering, and where possible, following best practice developments in sector science, for instance, the Guidance for Developers by the Berkeley Carbon Trading Project to ensure the highest project implementation and assessment standards in all its programs.


[i] (except GS2688) which was given a lower rating because a single monitoring report out of several annual reports - the first monitoring report from 2012 - is no longer available, having been deleted by MEC’s carbon consultant.

MEC Africa Program: All You Need to Know

MicroEnergy Credits – Microfinance for Solar Lamps & Efficient Cookstoves

Grouped Project under Verra

In line with our commitment to transparency and integrity, we are providing a comprehensive list of all the information about our Africa clean energy program here.

This initiative aims to ensure that stakeholders have access to program details and documentation in an easy-to-use way.

In the rural areas in Kenya, the predominant means of cooking are traditional cookstoves that use charcoal or wood as fuel. The smoke and fumes from these inefficient stoves contribute heavily to indoor air pollution, and affect human health. In rural areas of Kenya there is either no grid connection or frequent power outages and low voltage so rural households must use kerosene for indoor lighting, which also contributes to indoor air pollution.

Under the project activity, MEC works with project partners to develop a successful and diversified clean energy-lending program. The clean energy program addresses typical barriers for low-income clients including education, price, finance, and supply and aftersales service. MEC trains project partners to implement the clean energy lending program, as well as a robust and transparent carbon credit monitoring and tracking system to quantify and record the volume of carbon emission reductions created through the clean energy program.

Audited Documents

Additionality:

Over-crediting

Co-benefits of the program

MEC India Efficient Lighting Program: All You Need to Know

MicroEnergy Credits - Microfinance for Efficient Lighting Product Lines

Grouped Project under Verra

In line with our commitment to transparency and integrity, we are providing a comprehensive list of all the information about our efficient lighting carbon program here.

This initiative aims to ensure that stakeholders have access to program details and documentation in an easy-to-use way.

The purpose of this grouped project “Microfinance for Inverter LED lamps in India” is to reduce fossil-fuel-based electricity consumption in rural households across India by introducing more energy-efficient inverter LED lamps to replace incandescent lightbulbs (“ICLs”). An inverter LED contains a light bulb coupled with a battery system (typically Li-Ion type) such that the LED bulb will operate on the mains power supply during availability and will switch to battery power when the main supply is not available (for e.g., in a blackout situation). This makes the inverter LED more versatile and useful than a normal LED bulb.

The inverter LEDs distributed under the grouped project replace ICL lamps in households, which results in GHG emissions due to the usage of ICL. Thus, the grouped project leads to the mitigation of GHG emissions and a range of other sustainable development benefits in the project region.

The distribution of SLS is not mandated by Indian law and the grouped project is a voluntary initiative.

Audited Documents

Additionality:

Over-crediting

Co-benefits of the program: Fostering community empowerment

MEC India Clean Cooking Program (GS12066): All You Need to Know

MicroEnergy Credits - Microfinance for Clean Cooking Product Lines

PoA ID GS 12066

In line with our commitment to transparency and integrity, we are providing a comprehensive list of all the information about our electric cooking carbon program here.

This initiative aims to ensure that stakeholders have access to program details and documentation in an easy-to-use way.

The purpose of the program is to provide end-users with Induction Cookstoves (IC) to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the burning of non-renewable woody biomass used for cooking. The project also envisages benefitting household members, especially women, by reducing exposure to indoor air pollution, reducing health expenses, and reducing drudgery towards the collection/purchase of firewood and its use in cookstoves for cooking. 

Audited Documents

Additionality:

Over-crediting

Co-benefits of the program: Fostering community empowerment

MEC India Clean Energy Program (GS11450): All You Need to Know

MICROENERGY CREDITS – MICROFINANCE FOR CLEAN ENERGY PRODUCT LINES – INDIA

PoA ID GS 11450

In line with our commitment to transparency and integrity, we are providing a comprehensive list of all the information about our India clean energy carbon program here.

This initiative aims to ensure that stakeholders have access to program details and documentation in an easy-to-use way.

The program promotes three broad categories of Clean Energy Products (“CEP”):

Comprehensive information about the program:

I. Audited Documents:

II. Additionality:

III. Over-crediting:

IV. Co-benefits of the program: Fostering community empowerment

MicroEnergy Credits Achieves Milestone with First-of-Their-Kind Induction Cookstove Carbon Credits Issuance under Gold Standard

Mumbai, 13 February 2024– MicroEnergy Credits, a trusted provider of social impact carbon credits, proudly announces the issuance of first-of-their-kind carbon credits for its innovative induction cookstove clean cooking carbon program under the new Gold Standard Methodology for Metered & Measured Energy Cooking Devices. This achievement marks a significant step forward in the fight against pollution and health impacts caused by traditional cooking fuels, particularly in rural India.

Cooking fuels, including wood, coal, and biomass, have long been a major source of indoor air pollution in India. This form of cooking has a disastrous impact on not only the environment but also a devastating toll on public health. Those who cook over wood or kerosene, mostly women, inhale dangerous amounts of toxic smoke. According to the World Health Organization, pollution from this type of cooking kills 4 million people every year. In India, smoke from solid fuel used for cooking and other household activities is the largest source of ambient air pollution. Recent studies[i], including the one by Rao et al[ii]., have found that 20–50% of the pollutants in ambient air in India originate from residential solid fuel combustion.

April Allderdice, CEO, MicroEnergy Credits said:

“Our induction cookstove program not only contributes significantly to reducing carbon emissions but also plays a crucial role in uplifting communities on the energy ladder, providing them with cleaner and more efficient cooking solutions. By harnessing the power of innovative solutions, we are empowering households to transition towards cleaner energy sources, contributing to a healthier environment, and improving the quality of life for rural and low-income women and their families.

“This initiative aligns seamlessly with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically targeting SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy, SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being, and SDG 13 – Climate Action. By addressing the cooking sector's environmental impact, we are promoting better health outcomes for communities as well as creating a positive ripple effect in mitigating climate change.”

Margaret Kim, CEO, Gold Standard said:

“Clean cooking projects play an essential role in contributing to sustainable development and reducing emissions. The first issuance of credits from our Methodology Metered and Measured Cooking Device methodology, which enables accurate real-time measurement of energy consumption, marks an important milestone for clean cooking in the carbon market. I congratulate MicroEnergy Credits for their innovative and impactful project, and look forward to seeing the wider adoption of this methodology.”

MicroEnergy Credits' induction cookstove clean cooking program offers a transformative solution by significantly reducing the air pollution and carbon emissions associated with cooking. Induction cookstoves provide a cleaner and more sustainable alternative to traditional methods. The technology not only improves air quality and health outcomes for communities, but it also aligns with global efforts to combat climate change.

The Gold Standard certification attests to the verifiable emission reductions achieved by the MicroEnergy Credits program. The rigorous monitoring and verification process ensures that each credit issued represents a genuine and impactful reduction in carbon emissions, further emphasizing the company's commitment to generating the highest quality of carbon credits with verifiable impact.

Following a certification the project has achieved the following verified impact:

“The world will not reach net zero without addressing clean cooking access. And the cooking crisis, like climate change, will not be solved without carbon finance,” said Donee Alexander, Chief Science and Learning Officer, Clean Cooking Alliance. “When based on realistic assumptions that reflect integrity, transparency, and accountability, like those of Gold Standard’s metered methodology, clean cooking projects can deliver huge climate wins for people and the planet.”

MicroEnergy Credits remains dedicated to pioneering programs with clean energy solutions to empower rural and low-income communities on their journey out of poverty. The induction cookstove carbon credits issuance is a testament to the company's ongoing efforts to make a positive impact on both the well-being of communities and the planet.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Garima Dawer

Director, Communications, MicroEnergy Credits

garima.dawer@microenergycredits.com

About MicroEnergy Credits 

MicroEnergy Credits is a social enterprise that helps MFIs launch and scale clean energy lending programs by connecting them to carbon markets. As a trusted provider of social impact carbon credits, MEC seeks to empower every community by providing access to affordable and innovative clean energy solutions. MEC aims to create a world free of both poverty and climate change. Our programs enable rural and low-income communities to take control of their clean energy future while providing corporations committed to positive climate action with carbon credits with verifiable impact. 

Over the past 16 years, we have impacted the lives of over 40 million people in the developing countries of Asia and Africa. Our MFI partners play a crucial role in the adoption of clean energy. As a supportive partner, MEC leverages its prowess in the carbon market to provide resources, training, and expertise to help our MFI partners make a difference on the ground. 


[i] [i] Chafe, Z., & Chowdhury, S. (2021). A deadly double dose for India’s poor. Nature Sustainability, 4(10), 835-836. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-021-00752-0

[ii] Rao, N. D., Kiesewetter, G., Min, J., Pachauri, S., & Wagner, F. (2021). Household contributions to and impacts from air pollution in India. Nature Sustainability, 4(10), 859-867. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-021-00744-0

How Does MEC Incorporate the Research from UC Berkeley (Gill-Wiehl et al) in its Work? 

As a project developer, MEC read Gill-Wiehl’s original research with interest. We are always trying to keep on the cutting edge using the best possible methodologies. Technology is continuously changing and we are evolving with it. As our CEO April Allderdice writes here, the methodologies will continue to change and improve over time. Moreover, it is our company's value that constructive criticism is a valuable catalyst for progress.  The great news is that MEC has already been applying most of the suggestions for monitoring integrity. Here are some of the suggestions from the paper that MEC is already implementing:

MEC Africa Program: Co-Benefits

Fostering Community Empowerment - Paving the Way Towards a Sustainable Future

MicroEnergy Credits (MEC) programs, backed by carbon finance, play a crucial role in bridging the gap between clean energy solutions and communities in need. Employing a holistic approach, MEC addresses challenges encompassing energy drudgery, awareness, pricing, finance, and after-sales services, ensuring a sustained impact on the communities it serves.

The comprehensive strategy of MEC's Africa programs makes a substantial contribution to community development. By significantly reducing indoor air pollution and providing access to sustainable energy for cooking and lighting, the program addresses the fundamental needs of low-income households. Strategic partnerships with microfinance institutions facilitate upfront credit facilities for clean energy technologies, ensuring affordability through manageable EMIs. Furthermore, the program creates employment opportunities for local youth, fostering sustainable development in the communities it serves.

Contributing to Sustainable Development Goals while addressing barriers for low-income clients under MEC Projects in Africa

Within the dynamic landscape of its projects in Africa, MEC not only strives to contribute to the broader canvas of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but also successfully addresses the unique challenges faced by low-income households. This multipronged model forms the crux of MEC's mission in Africa.

MEC is committed to not only providing clean energy solutions and clean water (significantly contributing to SDGs 6 & 7) but also actively addressing the barriers faced by low-income clients. Comprehensive training programs empower MEC’s project partners to effectively implement clean energy lending, supported by a robust carbon credit monitoring system for transparency and accountability. These innovative strategies and multifaceted approaches employed by MEC’s projects in Africa have been striving to achieve the twin objectives of sustainable development and inclusivity in the African context since 2013, impacting 8 million low-income households.

MEC strategically employs carbon finance to drive sustainable change, focusing on:

Carbon finance is allocated to drive education and awareness campaigns among rural and low-income communities. This ensures that communities are not only aware of the benefits of clean energy but also actively engage in adopting solutions that help them shift away from traditional fossil fuels to improved clean energy technologies. This action aligns the end user’s perspective towards the low carbon technology and contributes to SDG-7(Affordable and Clean Energy) and 13 (Climate Action).

MEC dedicates resources to training and capacity-building programs for micro-entrepreneurs and staff members of microfinance institutions (MFIs). Each training program developed by MEC is tailored to the specific needs of partner organizations. These programs aim to improve skills, facilitate effective communication with end-users, and ensure the rigorous use of technology, along with prompt after-sales services, and scaling-up of the program in the long run. This action aligns the end user’s perspective towards the low carbon technology and contributes to SDG-7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), 13 (Climate Action), SDG-8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth)

MEC recognizes the importance of local businesses, especially Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and channels funds to support sales of clean energy products. This not only boosts local economies but also creates a self-sustaining cycle of clean energy adoption. The activities under the program provide opportunities for skilled employment in rural areas and significantly contribute to SDG-8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth).

Carbon finance is utilized to provide after-sales service and maintenance, ensuring that the end-users can maximize the benefits from the continuous use of clean energy products.  This solidifies the community’s trust and commitment towards the adoption and consistent use of clean energy technologies which significantly contributes to SDG-7 and SDG-13.

MEC maintains a sustained relationship with the end-user, with regular monitoring of product usage being an important part of MEC’s carbon program. MEC works with microfinance institutions which typically meet with clients every week or fortnight. These meetings serve the purpose of reinforcing the behavioural change needed for the sustained efficient adoption of the clean energy product. Moreover, these meetings create a timely opportunity for users to access after-sales service for their products. The action promptly contributes to SDG-7 and SDG-13.

Carbon finance is strategically used to lower interest or principal costs for clients, making clean energy solutions more affordable to low-income communities. This lowering of the upfront cost is supported through carbon finance promotes widespread adoption and significantly contributes to SDG-1.

Harmony between MEC projects in Africa and the Governments of Kenya and Uganda’s welfare schemes and programs

In addition to aligning with the SDGs, MEC's Africa program has broadened its influence by supporting various schemes and social security programs initiated by the Governments of Kenya and Uganda. The following is a list of schemes and programs to which the MEC program has contributed:

Sl. NoScheme/Program NameCountryAboutContribution of MEC’s Program to the Schemes/Program
1Last Mile Connectivity ProgramKenyaThe project is targeted at benefitting approximately 314,200 non-commercial customers (households) resulting in electricity access to an additional 1.5 million KenyansBy implementing solar home lighting systems, MEC ensures sustainable access to electricity, enabling low-income households to engage in productive activities after nightfall
2National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP)KenyaThe National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP), 2018-2022, is a five-year plan that helps Kenya adapt to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissionsMEC MFI carbon program in Kenya is reducing GHG emission by providing low carbon technologies among the under-privileged communities.
3Climate Change Act, 2016Kenyamainstream climate change responses and formulate program and plans to enhance the resilience and adaptive capacity of human and ecological systems to the impacts of climate change;The MEC MFI carbon program in Kenya is instrumental in establishing an ecosystem for the adoption of low-carbon technologies within underprivileged communities.
4Kenya Youth Employment and Opportunities Project (KYEOP)KenyaKYEOP is a transformational project that aims to empower and uplift the well-being of the youth in Kenya by equipping them with essential training, internship and business grant opportunities.The MEC model educates and empowers microentrepreneurs, creating a skilled workforce in Africa. Additionally, MEC provides training for MFI staff, enhancing their skills in sales, marketing, and the service and maintenance of low carbon technologies.
5Youth Livelihood Program (YLP)  Ugandato empower the target youth to harness their socio-economic potential and increase self-employment opportunities and income levelsThe MEC model educates and empowers microentrepreneurs, creating a skilled workforce in Africa. Additionally, MEC provides training for MFI staff, enhancing their skills in sales, marketing, and the service and maintenance of low carbon technologies.
6Rural Electrification Agency (REA) initiatives Promotion of renewable energy sources  UgandaThe implementation of the policy objectives will positively respond to the various policy instruments and programs, which address poverty, catalyze industrialization, and protect the environment.The MEC MFI carbon program in Uganda is instrumental in establishing an ecosystem for the adoption of low-carbon technologies within underprivileged communities.
7National Climate Change Policy & Action PlanUgandaTo ensure a harmonized approach towards a climate-resilient and low-carbon development path for sustainable development in UgandaThe MEC MFI carbon program in Uganda is instrumental in establishing an ecosystem for the adoption of low-carbon technologies within underprivileged communities and supporting the national climate change policy and action plan.

MEC seeks to empower every community by providing access to affordable and innovative clean energy solutions, including solar lighting systems, improved biomass cookstoves, and water purification systems.

With the aim to create a world free of both poverty and climate change, MEC leverages carbon finance through its programs, enabling rural and low-income communities to take control of their clean energy future. MEC's projects in India showcase collaboration, innovative financing, and a comprehensive approach to empowerment to bring enduring transformation for communities in their journey out of poverty.

In working towards a sustainable and eco-friendly future, Micro Energy Credits (MEC) is contributing through transformative projects in Kenya and Uganda. The program supported by Carbon Finance, play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between clean energy solutions and communities-in-need. MEC's holistic approach addresses challenges related to education, pricing, finance, and aftersales services, ensuring a comprehensive impact on the communities it serves.

MEC's African program embodies a comprehensive approach aligned with multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By significantly reducing indoor air pollution, it actively contributes to SDG-13. Additionally, providing access to sustainable energy for cooking and lighting addresses the fundamental needs of low-income households, making a positive impact on SDG-1. MEC forms strategic partnerships with Microfinance Institutions to ensure upfront credit facilities for clean energy technologies, supporting affordability through manageable EMIs and contributing to SDG-7. Furthermore, the program plays a vital role in generating local employment opportunities, making a meaningful contribution to SDG-8.

Addressing Barriers for Low-Income Clients:

MEC goes beyond providing clean energy solutions by actively addressing the typical barriers faced by low-income clients. Through comprehensive training programs, project partners are equipped to implement clean energy lending effectively. This includes the establishment of a robust carbon credit monitoring and tracking system to ensure transparency and accountability.

Bridging Gaps through Client Education:

MEC places a strong emphasis on client education to empower communities with information about clean energy solutions. By fostering a deeper understanding of the benefits of clean energy, MEC not only provides a sustainable solution but also brings about a behavioral change towards adopting these technologies.

Utilizing Carbon Finance for Sustainable Impact:

The innovative use of carbon finance is at the core of MEC's projects in Africa, amplifying the impact of clean energy initiatives. Here's how MEC strategically employs carbon finance to drive sustainable change:

Client Education and Marketing:

Carbon finance is allocated to drive client education, awareness campaigns and marketing efforts. This ensures that communities are not only aware of the benefits of clean energy but also actively engage in adopting solutions that help them shift away from traditional fossil fuels to improved clean energy technologies.

Training and Capacity Building:

MEC dedicates resources to training and capacity building programs for micro-entrepreneurs and staff members of Microfinance Institutions (MFIs). Each training program developed by MEC is tailored to the specific needs of partner organizations. These programs aim to improve skills, facilitate effective communication with end-users, and ensure the rigorous use of technology, along with prompt after-sales services, scaling-up, of the program in the long-run.

Lending Funds to Local SMEs:

Recognizing the importance of local businesses especially Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), MEC channels funds to support sales of clean energy product. This not only boosts local economies but also creates a self-sustaining cycle of clean energy adoption.

Aftersales Service and Maintenance:

Carbon finance is utilized to provide aftersales service and maintenance, ensuring optimal functionality of the clean energy products. This solidifies community trust and commitment towards adoption and consistent use of clean energy technologies, making the projects more effective in the long run.

Lowering Interest or Principal Costs:

Carbon finance is strategically used to lower interest or principal costs for clients, making clean energy solutions more affordable to low-income communities. This financial cost cutting supported through carbon finance promotes widespread adoption, furthering MEC's mission of creating a sustainable and resilient future.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targeted under MEC’s projects in Africa

Climate Action (Goal 13): The emissions generated by the water purifier are lower compared to boiling water on a standard stove. Likewise, the substitution of kerosene lanterns with SLS results in decreased emissions, leading to a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

No Poverty (Goal 1): The water purification systems and SLS offer efficient and environmentally friendly access to the basic essential services.

Affordable and Clean Energy (Goal 7): Project provides access to affordable and cleaner technology for drinking safe water i.e. operational WPS and Solar lighting Systems for lightning purpose.

Decent Work and Economic Growth (Goal 8): The project generates local employment for manufacturing, distribution, and maintenance of CEPs.

The overarching vision of MEC's projects in Africa is to enable the installation of solar lighting systems, improved biomass cookstoves and water purification devices throughout the country. By leveraging carbon finance in a multifaceted approach, MEC and its project partners aim to transform communities by providing them clean energy solutions and at the same time empowering them to build a sustainable and resilient future.

MEC's projects in Africa exemplify how collaborative efforts, innovative financing models, and a holistic approach can bring about tangible and lasting change. As we navigate the path towards a greener tomorrow, MEC’s projects pave the way for a future where clean energy is a universally accessible and affordable. Through education, strategic financing, and community empowerment, MEC showcases the potential for a sustainable and brighter future for all.

Image Credit: Freepik

MEC Africa Program: Project Additionality- Common Practice Analysis to Bolster Integrity of Carbon Credits

The concept of common practice in additionality is a critical component in bolstering confidence in carbon offsets and their integrity. MicroEnergy Credits follows a robust process to ensure that all its carbon projects are strictly additional and not common practice.

Common practice analysis helps determine the extent to which a technology is business as usual i.e. has already diffused in a sector and region. Distributed clean energy products in Uganda and Kenya have been able to be deployed only through carbon finance. Several programs by multilateral banks, government initiatives, etc. have had limited success for various reasons, elaborated upon extensively later in the article.

In the context of energy access and clean cooking/lighting services in Kenya and Uganda, challenges and opportunities converge to shape the landscape.

About 0.7% and 20.40% of the populations of Uganda and Kenya, respectively, have access to clean cooking[i], Significantly contributing to indoor air pollution, fire hazards, and adverse health impacts. No or limited access to modern and clean energy sources, such as electricity and clean cooking technologies, remains a pressing issue.

The applicable geographic areas for interventions (rural areas of Uganda and Kenya) are characterized by diverse challenges including economic constraints, lack of infrastructure, and geographic remoteness. Many households face challenges in adopting clean cooking technologies due to high upfront costs, limited awareness, and insufficient supply of products.

MEC’s clean energy program reduces emissions by facilitating a transition from conventional fossil-fuel technologies to more energy-efficient alternatives. Collaborating with our partner microfinance institutions, MEC has identified products that meet the specific requirements of each community. These products include solar lighting systems and improved cookstoves (ICS).

In the period preceding the project's commencement, there was a lack of infrastructure and supportive conditions[ii] for the adoption of renewable technologies such as solar home lighting systems, and improved cookstoves (ICS). The community that the project aimed to assist had limited awareness about these cleaner technologies. Further, the essential products were largely unavailable in the local market, making it challenging for the targeted population to access and benefit from these sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions. Besides that, there was no financing[iii] available for the mentioned products, The upfront cost of these clean technologies was high for a low-income remotely located household. MEC, partnering with MFIs, sought to address these gaps by creating awareness, establishing a supportive ecosystem, enabling financial assistance in the form of microfinance loans, and making these technologies more accessible to the community, thereby contributing to a more sustainable and environmentally conscious way of living.

Projects implemented without carbon finance

Initiatives by the Governments of Uganda & Kenya and multilateral organizations have focused on the implementation of biomass cookstoves. Unfortunately, many of these efforts faced challenges and were largely unsuccessful due to a lack of a comprehensive ecosystem development approach. Most of these programs involved the free distribution of improved cookstoves among low-income households. The key issues contributing to their failure included an insufficient emphasis on behavioral change among end-users, limited access to repair and maintenance services, the inadequate establishment of local supply chains, and the provision of technologies not well-suited to local food habits and cooking styles.

Here is an example of a past program initiated by the Government of Kenya:

Name of ProgramObjectivePeriodNumber of Clean Energy Technology Products Distributed
The Kenya Off-Grid Solar Access Project (KOSAP)To increase access to modern energy services – electricity and modern cooking solutions– in households, businesses, and community and public facilities in fourteen underserved counties in Kenya2018-20232,50,000 solar home lighting systems 1,50,000 improved cookstoves

A study[iv] conducted by the Lund University suggests that the failure of previous clean cooking programs is attributed to a lack of understanding of user needs. The conventional utility-based model focusing on benefits and price may overlook competing priorities. The cooking needs of stove users are diverse, extending beyond smoke reduction and fuel efficiency. The study underscores the necessity for stove design and dissemination methods to align with features valued by users, even those unrelated to health and environmental impacts. Recognizing user perspectives is vital, as users must value and find their needs met for sustained stove adoption and usage.

Similarly, a study[v] conducted by the Stockholm Environment Institute suggests that the use of carbon finance can benefit – and sometimes even strengthen – improved cookstove projects in several ways. Most cookstove projects using carbon finance are still in the early stages. However, by examining how various types of actors are using (or plan to use) carbon finance within their business models, and how these fit with what the literature tells us about the core ingredients for cookstove market transformation.

Additionally, a study[vi] conducted by the United Nations University, Institute for Advanced Study of Sustainability (IAS) in Machakos and Laikipia counties of Kenya, investigated women's perceptions of health risks related to firewood dependence, their attitudes toward improved cooking charcoal stoves (ICS) as cleaner alternatives, and barriers to adoption. Despite awareness of health risks, there is a projected upward trend in firewood demand. Barriers to ICS adoption vary socio-culturally. The study recommends stakeholder involvement, participatory designs, and leveraging SDG 7 to promote cleaner and sustainable energy sources for cooking.

Overcoming barriers to clean energy adoption with MEC’s carbon funding

There is also evidence to suggest that giveaway programs (i.e. where clean energy products are given for free) are not successful for several reasons, e.g. limited to no focus on end-user awareness, lack of after-sales service, and no capacity development at an individual or institutional level.  

The MEC program is not common practice as it utilizes carbon finance to overcome challenges, empowering microentrepreneurs to invest in clean energy products. Initially, MEC collaborates with the microfinance institution to devise an appealing clean energy product offering for its microfinance client base, addressing obstacles such as education, pricing, financing, and the availability of supplies and after-sales service. Subsequently, MEC provides training to the microfinance institution for the implementation of the clean energy-lending program. This training encompasses aspects like business planning, capacity building, marketing and awareness campaigns for client education, and supply chain processes. MEC establishes a robust and transparent system for monitoring and tracking carbon credits, quantifying, and documenting the number of emissions reduced by the clean energy program. Lastly, the carbon finance is employed to expand and sustain the clean energy program through activities such as:

The common practice analysis conducted in the context of MicroEnergy Credits' carbon programs in Africa underscores the pivotal role of additional practices in ensuring the integrity of carbon credits. MEC's approach, leveraging carbon finance to overcome barriers to clean energy adoption, stands out as a distinctive and effective strategy, addressing challenges ranging from lack of awareness and infrastructure to financing constraints. By integrating microfinance institutions, client education, and comprehensive monitoring systems, MEC not only reduces carbon emissions but also establishes a sustainable and environmentally conscious pathway for rural communities, thereby contributing significantly to the broader goals of carbon mitigation and sustainable development.


[i] https://www.iea.org/reports/sdg7-data-and-projections/access-to-clean-cooking

[ii] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S221462962030116X

[iii] https://shaktifoundation.in/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/3FINAL-COOKING.pdf

[iv] https://lup.lub.lu.se/luur/download?func=downloadFile&recordOId=7762708&fileOId=7868525

[v] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2214629614001467?via%3Dihub

[vi] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0376835X.2017.1335592

MEC India Clean Energy Program- Project Additionality: Common Practice Analysis

Bolstering the Integrity of Carbon Credits

The concept of common practice in additionality is a critical component in bolstering confidence in carbon offsets and their integrity. MicroEnergy Credits follows a robust process to ensure that all its carbon projects are strictly additional and not common practice.

Common practice analysis helps determine the extent to which a technology is business as usual i.e. has already diffused in a sector and region. Distributed clean energy products in India have been largely successfully deployed through carbon finance. Several programs by multilateral banks, government initiatives, etc. have had limited success for various reasons, elaborated upon extensively later in the article.

In the context of energy access and clean cooking/drinking water/lighting services in rural India, challenges and opportunities converge to shape the landscape. About 840[i] million in India fully or partially rely on traditional biomass for cooking, contributing to indoor air pollution, fire hazards, and adverse health impacts. Limited access to modern and clean energy sources, such as electricity and clean cooking technologies, remains a pressing issue.

The applicable geographic areas for interventions in rural areas of India are characterized by diverse challenges including economic constraints, lack of infrastructure, and geographic remoteness. Many households face challenges in adopting clean cooking technologies due to high upfront costs, limited awareness, and insufficient supply of products.

MEC’s Clean Energy Program reduces emissions by facilitating a transition from conventional fossil-fuel technologies to more energy-efficient alternatives. Collaborating with our partner microfinance institutions, MEC has identified products that meet the specific requirements of each community. These products include solar lighting systems, improved cookstoves (ICS), and water purifiers.

In the period preceding the project's commencement, there was a lack of infrastructure and supportive conditions[ii] for the adoption of renewable technologies such as solar home lighting systems, improved cookstoves (ICS), and water purifiers. The community that the project aimed to assist had limited awareness about these cleaner technologies. Further, the essential products were largely unavailable in the local market, making it challenging for the targeted population to access and benefit from these sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions. Besides that, there was no financing[iii] available on the mentioned products, The upfront cost of these clean technologies was high for a low-income remotely located household. MEC, partnering with MFIs, sought to address these gaps by creating awareness, establishing a supportive ecosystem, enabling financial assistance in the form of microfinance loans, and making these technologies more accessible to the community, thereby contributing to a more sustainable and environmentally conscious way of living.

Projects implemented without carbon finance

Numerous initiatives by the Government of India (GOI) and multilateral organizations have focused on the implementation of biomass cookstoves. Unfortunately, many of these efforts faced challenges and were largely unsuccessful due to a lack of a comprehensive ecosystem development approach. Most of these programs involved the free distribution of improved cookstoves among low-income households. The key issues contributing to their failure included an insufficient emphasis on behavioral change among end-users, limited access to repair and maintenance services, the inadequate establishment of local supply chains, and the provision of technologies not well-suited to local food habits and cooking styles.

Here are a few examples of past programs initiated by the GOI:

Name of the ProgramObjectivesPeriodNumber of stoves distributed
National Program on Improved Cookstoves (NPIC)To disseminate improved cookstoves on a mass scale, through various partners, including state nodal agencies, NGOs, and self-employed workers1983- 200235 million[iv]
National Biomass Cookstoves Initiative (NBCI)To enhance technical capacity, strengthening research and development for ICS2009NA
Unnat Chulha AbhiyanTo promote improved biomass cookstoves across all states and union territories20142.4 million

A study conducted[v] jointly by J-PAL Global, Harvard University, and the University of Chicago on evaluating the long-term impacts of improved cooking stoves in India revealed significant insights into the sustainable outcomes and effectiveness of these state-run cookstove programs. The study was conducted in Odisha, India, in partnership with NGO Gram Vikas, to assess the long-term health and environmental impacts of an improved cookstove program. It was found that while many households accepted the stoves, regular usage was low and declined over time. The stoves did not substantially reduce exposure to harmful pollutants, leading to limited health improvements. The study suggests that real-world conditions significantly affect the success of such state-run interventions, emphasizing the need for testing technologies in realistic settings before massive-scale implementation.

Likewise, a research paper titled "Piloting Improved Cookstoves in India"[vi], advocates for a social marketing strategy. The approach, based on the 4Ps (promotion, product, price, and place), is recommended to stimulate the adoption of improved cookstoves. The authors emphasize the necessity of a holistic strategy that addresses communication, pricing, and placement considerations. To surpass the current low levels of adoption, the article suggests a comprehensive field-testing methodology, exploring various combinations of social marketing interventions. The study is executed in rural India, concentrating on areas with diverse socio-political and biophysical contexts.

Another academic publication by the University of Iowa, USA and Cornell College, USA titled "Why Have Improved Cook-Stove Initiatives in India Failed?“[vii] argues that rural women in India, who are the primary users of cookstoves, do not give priority to improved cookstoves. Meeting the priorities of these women would necessitate substantial investment to challenge established and influential social practices.

A joint research study[viii] “Who is willing to pay for solar lamps in rural India?” by VIT Bhopal University, India, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India, and the Boston College School of Social Work, USA underscores the need to increase awareness in the surveyed states, particularly for solar home systems (SHS) and solar water pumps. Given the minimal duration of available electricity, especially during dark hours in Bihar, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh states, the research suggests that solar products can serve as a meaningful solution to address these gaps. Recommendations include promoting awareness through various programs to generate significant interest in solar energy products, ultimately increasing willingness to pay among the population.

Overcoming barriers to clean energy adoption with MEC’s carbon funding

There is also evidence to suggest that giveaway programs (i.e. where clean energy products are given for free) are not successful for several reasons, e.g. limited to no focus on end-user awareness, lack of after-sales service, and no capacity development at an individual or institutional level.  

The MEC program is not common practice as it utilizes carbon finance to overcome challenges, empowering microentrepreneurs to invest in clean energy products. Initially, MEC collaborates with the microfinance institution to devise an appealing clean energy product offering for its microfinance client base, addressing obstacles such as education, pricing, financing, and the availability of supplies and after-sales service. Subsequently, MEC provides training to the microfinance institution for the implementation of the clean energy-lending program. This training encompasses aspects like business planning, capacity building, marketing and awareness campaigns for client education, and supply chain processes. MEC establishes a robust and transparent system for monitoring and tracking carbon credits, quantifying, and documenting the number of emissions reduced by the clean energy program. Lastly, the carbon finance is employed to expand and sustain the clean energy program through activities such as:

The common practice analysis conducted in the context of MicroEnergy Credits' carbon programs in India underscores the pivotal role of additional practices in ensuring the integrity of carbon credits. MEC's approach, leveraging carbon finance to overcome barriers to clean energy adoption, stands out as a distinctive and effective strategy, addressing challenges ranging from lack of awareness and infrastructure to financing constraints. By integrating microfinance institutions, client education, and comprehensive monitoring systems, MEC not only reduces carbon emissions but also establishes a sustainable and environmentally conscious pathway for rural communities, thereby contributing significantly to the broader goals of carbon mitigation and sustainable


[i] https://www.iisd.org/system/files/publications/clean-cooking-india-challenges-solutions_0.pdf

[ii] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S221462962030116X

[iii] https://shaktifoundation.in/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/3FINAL-COOKING.pdf

[iv] https://energypedia.info/images/f/f7/Dr._Parveen_Dhamija_%28MNRE%29_-_Unnat_Chulha_Abhiyan.pdf

[v] https://www.ideasforindia.in/topics/environment/improved-cooking-stoves-in-india-evaluating-long-run-impacts.html

[vi] Jessica J. Lewis, Vasundhara Bhojvaid, Nina Brooks, Ipsita Das, Marc A. Jeuland, Omkar Patange & Subhrendu K. Pattanayak (2015) Piloting Improved Cookstoves in India, Journal of Health Communication, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10810730.2014.994243

[vii] Why Have Improved Cook-Stove Initiatives in India Failed? - ScienceDirect

[viii] Who is willing to pay for solar lamps in rural India?- ScienceDirect

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