‘Why wait?” asks report on full power access

By Joyetter Luamanu ,

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Clean energy mini grids. Photo Credit: FRES Foundation

Clean energy mini grids. Photo Credit: FRES Foundation

A report on sustainable energy for all and power for all rural and vulnerable populations in developing countries was released at the United Nations Framework Climate Change Conference (C.O.P. 23) meeting in Bonn, Germany. 

The “Why wait? Seizing the energy access dividend” report focuses on deploying decentralized renewable energy solutions and developing countries could miss out on multiple wide ranging benefits if they are forced to wait years, or even decades to get access to electricity through first ever power from the grid. 

The report presents a first-of-its-kind approach to developing a framework for understanding and quantifying the financial, educational and environmental dividends for households through accelerated access to decentralized electricity, such as solar home systems and clean energy mini-grids. 

According to the report, households in Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Kenya – which were used as report Case Studies – can save hundreds of dollars, equivalent to the average annual income of between 61,800 and 406,000 people depending on the country and timeframe to deliver universal access. 

This is by bringing electricity access forward through use of solar to power household services like lighting and mobile phone charging instead of kerosene or costly external phone charging services. 

 “Another benefit from decentralized services is more time for studying —equivalent to the time spent in school each year of between 142,000 and two million students depending on the country and timeframe to deliver universal access.” 

The data also shows significant black carbon emission reductions across the three countries – as much as 330 million metric tons of C.O.2 equivalent emissions, or roughly the emissions from 60 million passenger vehicles driven for one year – because of reduced kerosene use. 

Special Representative of U.N. Secretary-General Sustainable Energy and C.E.O. of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All), Rachel Kyte said with the launching of the report, decision makers were faced with competing priorities against finite resources. 

“The ‘Why Wait’ report provides powerful evidence on the development gains that can be achieved by focusing on integrated energy strategies that advance energy access. 

“Household savings and hours of study time that are won because of access to energy. 

“Denying those gains by not prioritizing solutions to energy access risks holding back whole generation decentralized renewable energy as an attractive option for closing the energy access gap quickly especially for remote rural areas. 

“This work shows it can bring prosperity and education outcomes as well as other services energy provides.” 

Kristina Skierka, C.E.O. of Power for All said default approaches to electrification that relied on slow, expensive fossil-fuel-powered centralized generation were out of date and out of time. 

“Properly supported, decentralized renewable energy can deliver socio-economic dividends faster and at a lower cost.” 

The report was commissioned by SE4ALL and Power for All, and authored by the Overseas Development Institute. 

The framework factors in different time differences for delivering electricity access through alternative options involving decentralized and centralized grid-scale power. 

The different time assumptions used for the three countries are the government’s target goal for achieving full electricity access; the rate required to achieve the 2030 universal energy access goal; and the historical rate based on electrification progress from 2010 to 2014. 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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