Illuminating the Path to Global Electrification
In our world today, a staggering 675 million individuals remain in the dark, lacking access to electricity. The urgency to bridge this gap necessitates a twofold increase in the current annual growth rate. Without decisive action, a daunting 660 million people, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa, will still be without electricity by 2030. Notably, while 98 percent of urban populations enjoyed the privilege of electricity in 2021, only 85 percent of those residing in rural areas shared the same benefit. (IRENA, 2023)
Share of the population with access to electricity (Source: IEA, 2022)
The DRE Solution
Decentralised Renewable Energy (DRE) emerges as the most economical path to electrifying more than half of the necessary connections for sustainable global electricity by 2030. DRE achieves this with unprecedented speed, cost-effectiveness, and environmental cleanliness.
Central to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), DRE stands as a beacon for multiple reasons:
- Cleaner: DRE significantly contributes to climate change mitigation, offering up to 50% fewer emissions than grid extensions reliant on fossil fuels.
- Cheaper: DRE reduces investment needs by up to 30% compared to traditional grid extensions, steering us towards comprehensive electrification.
- Smarter and Faster: Clean energy mini-grids can be set up in weeks, while stand-alone systems can be implemented in a day, providing resilience to climate change and creating local green jobs.
Other decentralised solutions
- Stand-alone Systems: Small, localised systems like Solar Home Systems (SHS), cater to individual needs.
- Mesh-Grids: Pioneered by Okra in the Americas, mesh-grids offer a decentralised and modular solution for rural electrification, combining the flexibility of standalone systems with the reliability of traditional mini-grids.
In 2021, over 11 million individuals benefited from mini-grids powered by solar, hydro, and biogas technologies. These off-grid solutions present a promising avenue for bridging the electricity access gap, especially in remote regions of Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Benefits of Deploying DRE in Rural Areas
- Improved Quality of Life: Electric lighting extends productive hours, improving safety and security.
- Economic Development: Rural electrification stimulates economic growth, supporting local businesses and creating job opportunities.
- Education and Healthcare: Electricity enhances learning environments and facilitates access to medical facilities, fostering education and healthcare in remote areas.
- Reduced Dependency on Traditional Fuels
- Reduced Emissions: Transitioning from fossil fuels to electricity significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollution.
What is Needed to Further Electrify?
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency’s Tracking SDG 7 Report, international financial flows to developing countries for clean energy in 2019 amounted to only USD 10.9 billion, contrasting with USD 11.2 billion recorded in 2010.
To achieve universal energy access by 2030, the United Nations estimates that an annual investment of USD 35 billion is required. Therefore, scaling up investments in clean energy financing is essential, and the private sector needs to play a significant role in achieving this goal.