Off-grid Solutions to Energy Poverty

Mar 6th, 2015

Energy poverty is a major global problem, hindering the development of bottom-billion countries. Solar has been identified as a sustainable solution to provide reliable electricity to the globe. In order for the solar industry to scale and offer affordable solutions to the billions in need of power, infrastructure changes and major investments must be made. Below are recent articles, reports, and interviews discussing the potential for solar and the changes that must be made to achieve global scale. Could a Multi-Billion Dollar Solar Industry Boom in Emerging Markets? By Jigar Shah on Unreasonable Blackouts affect more than 700 million people in India alone, exposing the weakness of the grid and the need for sustainable off-grid energy solutions. The potential for solar is vast but a lack of financing has stifled entrepreneurs’ efforts to provide solar power to their communities. International lenders have the means to jumpstart the solar market, but they are stuck in the pattern of funding centralized power plants. Decentralized solar power is already cheaper than buying energy from the grid in many parts of the world, and many investors have recognized the industry’s potential, investing almost $140 billion in solar in 2014. Half of this investment went to small-scale distributed solar projects. In order to scale and catalyze the solar industry, international lenders must develop new frameworks that allow big grants to reach small solar projects. New Report Says Off-Grid Systems Can Solve Energy Poverty in Rural Areas by Pariphan Uawithya on Sun-Connect-News A recent report published by Accenture Development Partnerships, supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, assessed the suitability of off-grid energy systems in seven Asian and African countries and confirmed that decentralized power can play a role in helping communities overcome energy poverty. A quarter of the world’s population – 1.3 billion people – lack access to electricity and 85% of those people live in rural areas. This issue of access is not unknown, and many programs are in place to extend grids to rural areas. However, this focus on nationally-led grid extension is not necessarily the right solution. We need economical, commercially viable and scalable decentralized energy solutions to connect the billions living in remote areas. This report explores the impact of expanding off-grid solutions. Solar Power Empower the Poor (Video) by Zachary Shahan on Cleantechnica In a recent interview, Richenda van Leeuwen, Executive Director of Energy and Climate and the Energy Access Initiative team for the UN Foundation, discussed bringing sustainable, clean energy to the developing world. Leeuwen praises innovative companies for bringing solar and other cleantech options to the developing world and addresses the affordability of renewables saying, “Renewable energy services have been counted as too expensive for the rich in the US and other developed countries in the OECD, but in fact they’ve been the most affordable type of energy services for the poor.” New Here?