Saturday, May 23, 2015

Renewable Minigrids Should Be the End Goal for Rural Poor

 (Photo Credit: d.light) Click to Enlarge.
Distributed energy solutions, such as rooftop solar, should be the electrification solution for the 1.1 billion people who are not plugged into a national power grid, not just a stopgap measure.  That is the message from a new global industry group, Power for All, launched in New York City this week amidst the latest gathering of the United Nations’ universal energy access program. 

Power For All brings together businesses and not-for-profit organizations that distribute off-grid solutions, including solar-LED lights and home power systems. founding members include San Francisco-based d.light; Arusha, Tanzania-based Off Grid Electric; and London-based NGO SolarAid—owner of solar-LED light global market leader SunnyMoney, which sold 650,000 lights last year. 

Their message is that bottom-up distributed energy solutions should be the preferred solution for assuring universal access to electricity because they are faster, cleaner, and cheaper than extending power grids to rugged or sparsely-populated regions.

Figures released this week by the joint UN-World Bank energy access program—Sustainable Energy for All—lend credence to Power for All’s argument. SE4ALL’s report on energy access trends compares progress during the 2010-2012 period with energy access trends of the previous two decades. From 2010 to 2012 some 222 million people—more than the population of Brazil—gained grid access for the first time.  The growth outpaced global population growth almost 2 to 1, thus trimming the number not yet connected from 1.2 billion to 1.1 billion.

Those figures make electrification a bright spot.  Little progress was detected in access to cleaner cooking fuels.  Some 2.9 billion people were still cooking with biomass fuels such as wood and dung in 2012.

Read more at Renewable Minigrids Should Be the End Goal for Rural Poor

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