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Nairobi to Drive Global Off-grid Electricity Agenda

Players discuss how to increase renewable energy solutions like solar and wind in rural areas where on grid power lines can not reach.
02 Aug 2016 13:10
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Key players from the off-grid renewable energy sector – including policy makers, the private sector, financiers, and development institutions will gather in Nairobi, Kenya in late September to push forward the global off-grid agenda.

The third International Off-grid Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition, organised by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in partnership with the Kenyan Ministry of Energy and Petroleum and the Alliance for Rural Electrification, aims to improve electricity access by scaling up off-grid renewable energy options.

Off-grid power systems supply electricity to properties that are not connected to the public electricity network. These systems are often referred to as “stand-alone power systems”

Director-General Adnan Z. Amin of International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in a statement today said achieving 100 per cent electricity access by 2030 will require the pace of electricity expansion to nearly double – but this has never been more possible.

“Dramatic cost reductions in recent years have made renewable technologies the most economic option for off-grid electrification – even cheaper than diesel-fired generation or kerosene-based conventional lighting in majority of contexts.

Off-grid renewables can spur socio-economic growth while also contributing to multiple Sustainable Development Goals.” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin.

A growing number of governments, businesses and individuals according to Adnan Amin are recognizing the potential of off-grid renewables as a solution to energy access issues.

International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) studies indicate that in 2015, $276 million was invested in the off-grid solar sector alone, a 15-fold increase over 2012.

Experts at the last Off-grid Renewable Energy conference held in Manila in 2014 underlined that off-grid renewable energy sources offer a cost-effective, clean, and reliable option to expand electricity access in rural, peri-urban, and island contexts.

They said to achieved that, there must be a holistic approach towards energy access – taking into account water, agriculture, health, telecommunication, and education. 

Participants at the Nairobi Conference will deliberate on four overarching themes such as stand-alone systems for rapid expansion of electricity access; technology innovation to unlock new opportunities; mini-grid development to meet growing demand; and sociology-economic benefits of off-grid renewable energy system deployment.

They will share experiences and best practices on the design and implementation of enabling policies, tailored financing schemes, innovative business models, and technology applications to boost off-grid development.

Africa's energy crisis according energy experts  represents one of the great development challenges that have had a powerful brake on economic growth and poverty reduction.

Over 140 years after Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, 621 million Africans have no access to reliable, affordable energy – no source of heat and light for their homes, schools and hospitals.

A study  by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) in collaboration with  the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association in 2012 found  that only 15 percent of Uganda's population had access to electricity

 

The study found that there seems to be a clear divide in terms of accessibility between rural and urban areas.

That only 7% of the rural population can access electricity, while up to 55% in urban Uganda had access to electricity. The study found that the market potential for off -grid solar in Uganda is significant.

It said the overall affordability for solar off -grid products might be affected by the high proportion of the population living below the extreme poverty line (38%).

Market survey evidence shows that what people want is access to affordable, reliable energy in sufficient quantities for them to light their homes, cook, do homework, charge their phones, and listen to the radio.

Another study by New Climate Economy  highlighted, technological change and innovative new business models have the potential to bring modern energy within reach of the rural and urban poor.

Prices for solar panels and lithium batteries are falling sharply. Mobile ‘pay-as-you-use' systems are enabling companies such as d.light, M-KOPA Solar and Off-Grid Electric to provide customized services and technologies for poor households.

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