Hivos International

About Renewable Energy

Energy is a vital driving force for development. Access to energy can alleviate poverty, improve living conditions and propel economic development. However, taking the fossil fuel route straight towards climate change will have disastrous effects, especially for developing countries. Hivos therefore stimulates sustainable development fuelled by clean, renewable energy.

Hivos’ Renewable Energy programme focuses on governments and large corporations as well as people without access to modern forms of energy. Hivos and its partners demonstrate that renewable energy is not a pipe dream or an alternative, but simply the best choice. We do that by making simple, smart and clean off-grid technologies accessible to poor people in remote areas, like biodigesters, biomass briquetting and solar power systems, or mini-grids running on liquid biofuels, amongst others.


We join forces in particular with local organisations and entrepreneurs because we have seen that decentralised renewable energy systems, more reliant on small-scale generation from renewable energy sources, also allow consumers to become producers themselves, thus driving local economic development. We also support NGOs in developing countries to increase the demand for (renewable) energy access in remote locations.


Domestic biogas provides a clean, sustainable way for individual households with livestock to reduce dependence on firewood and expensive fossil fuels. A biogas digester converts animal dung into biogas that can be used for cooking and lighting. The slurry left over from this process is also an excellent organic fertiliser that improves crop yields and thus boosts income as well.

Women and children save time and money by not collecting and cooking with firewood or buying charcoal, fossil fuels and chemical fertilisers. Broader advantages include reduced deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions, and improved public health, as indoor air pollution is a major cause of illness and premature deaths.

A market-based biogas sector is needed to make domestic biogas broadly accessible. To create this sector, Hivos manages national multi-stakeholder programmes in several countries, using locally-trained contractors and masons supported by vocational training institutions. Banks and microfinance institutions are encouraged to provide loans to end-users and biogas construction enterprises. The domestic biogas programme offers an investment incentive of around 25%, depending on the country. We employ carbon finance to support this incentive, and a guarantee system protects end-users against faulty construction.


Hivos has biogas programmes running in Africa (African Biogas Partnership Programme and Zimbabwe Domestic Biogas programme), Asia (Indonesia Domestic Biogas Programme and National Biodigester Programme in Cambodia) and Latin America (Biogas Programme Nicaragua). In all these countries, we partner with the SNV Netherlands Development Organisation for technical assistance. We also work closely with the Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, the UN, national governments and with rural development NGOs to carry out these multi-stakeholder programmes.

The African Biogas Partnership Programme supports national biogas programmes in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Burkina Faso. This partnership is geared towards constructing 100,000 biogas plants that will enable half a million people to access a sustainable source of energy by 2018.

The Indonesia Domestic Biogas Programme (BIRU), which started in 2009, installed almost 16,000 digesters by the end of 2015 and expects to have reached 25,000 units by the end of 2018, serving 100,000 users.

The National Biodigester Programme (NBP) in Cambodia, initiated in 2006, implements a market-based approach and has so far reached over 130,500 Cambodians with 25,000 biodigesters installed. Hivos has supported the programme since 2007 by facilitating the monitoring of greenhouse gas emission reductions and marketing its carbon credits. The programme is looking to install 65,000 digesters by the end of 2018.

The current five-year Zimbabwe Domestic Biogas Programme, implemented within the scope of the UN's Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative, aims to establish a vibrant biogas sector that will improve the living conditions and health of more than 67,000 households, especially benefitting women and children. The project also follows a market-driven approach in promoting the uptake of biogas technology in Zimbabwe.


There is only one way, however, to show that clean, renewable energy works. Since 2010 on the remote Indonesian island of Sumba, Hivos has brought together farmers’ organisations, governments, the state energy company, investors and entrepreneurs in an ambitious, area-based initiative to provide residents with smart energy technology.

In 2011, only 25% of the 700,000 inhabitants had access to electricity; now 44% of the island’s inhabitants enjoy energy generated by solar panels, windmills and microhydro installations. Only clean energy sources are used for cooking, to light homes, operate machines and irrigate the land. The approach not only benefits consumers, but producers as well: over 50 farming families saw their income increase because of a new solar application for irrigation, and another 150 now use their own biogas and fertile bioslurry.

We realise bold multi-stakeholder initiatives such as the Sumba Island programme to showcase how people working together in poor, remote areas can take charge of their own development, facilitated by a supply of 100 per cent renewable energy.

Key Focal Areas

  • More than 2.5 billion people worldwide lack access to modern energy in their everyday lives.