Countries with the worst energy poverty will have to “truly mobilize the power of decentralized renewable energy” (DRE) if the United Nations is to meet its sustainable development goal of delivering universal energy access by 2030, Power for All warns in a report released last week.
“In many countries, policy bias favouring grid-centric, fossil fuel approaches is holding back access in rural areas where the vast majority of the energy impoverished reside,” the report states. “Instead, national governments must focus on expanding electrification through the best available options, including decentralized renewable products and services—and adopt policies that can speed DRE adoption.”
Of the countries with the lowest levels of energy access, only half have national targets to address the problem, 42% have rural electrification targets, and 23% have specific goals for distributed generation, the report notes. But the solutions are easily enough at hand.
“While many countries are fighting a losing battle using business-as-usual approaches to reach electrification goals, the DRE sector—ranging from pico solar and micro-hydro to mini-grids and mobile solar farms—is providing energy to more customers than many of the largest global utilities today.”
The report identifies Angola, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda as countries with rural electrification rates ranging from five to 50%, and unelectrified populations ranging from eight to 36 million, but with national, rural electrification, and DRE targets all in place. At the other end of the 48-country inventory, it lists 25 countries with no rural or DRE targets, only a handful of them with national energy access goals.
“While the lack of achievement in access is a complex equation with many factors,” Power for All concludes, “solving the access challenge—and accelerating achievement of the multitude of development objectives enabled by electrification—is possible if energy-poor nations adopt the full suite of available solutions, including the best technologies and business models in energy generation, like DRE.”
So far, the organization has shared its findings at multi-stakeholder meetings in Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe, and “we’re excited to take these learnings and apply them in even more countries.”