This situation emphasises the urgent requirement to improve livelihood conditions and their resilience towards crises. In our recent study, we explored the nexus between off-grid renewables and livelihoods and demonstrated how off-grid mini-grid solutions in particular are able to support applications that provide socio-economic benefits (see illustration below). For instance, various electrically powered applications can serve productive uses, creating the basis for smallholders, private sector activities and later unfolding local and regional entrepreneurship. Community services provide essential services like water supply or securing health care and medical cooling chains, which are an essential requirement for vaccines. Furthermore, access to renewable energy can lead to increased gender equality through improving safety conditions and health levels as well as providing women with more opportunities to save time and generate income. Finally, off-grid RE significantly enhances the opportunity of poverty or emergency affected populations to voluntarily decide whether to migrate or not. Thus, our findings have shown that the outlined nexus can substantially build the resilience of local communities, ultimately leading to an increase in income, reduced poverty, delivered community services or absorbed adverse impacts of climate induced hazards as well as pandemic emergencies.
Moreover, the global analysis of our study has shown that off-grid technologies can offer electrification with lower initial investments by 30% on average and lower greenhouse gas emissions by 50% on average compared to grid extension. In addition, off-grid solutions can be more flexible and reliable and directly adopted according to the local energy needs. Thus, they often represent a smarter and faster solution, allowing a cost-effective and clean way of quickly harnessing the co-benefits of SDG 7.
Our study “Off-Grid Renewable Energy for Climate Action – Pathways for change”, developed by the Reiner Lemoine Institute and the greenwerk., coordinated by the German Development Agency (GIZ) together with FactorCO2 and supported by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), explores CLEANER, CHEAPER & SMARTER solutions for universal electricity access by 2030. It can be downloaded here. Additionally, the webpage displays electrification scenarios considering investment needs and emission reduction potentials for grid extension, mini-grid deployment and solar-home-system dissemination until 2030 for 52 countries.
The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates how significantly external and unforeseen incidents can affect societies, from the national down to the local level. Development patterns, capabilities and the needs of the least developed communities around the globe have changed and intensified.