Energy Poverty Raises Concerns
Electricity Access Still Insufficient in Developing Countries
Despite massive gains in global access to electricity over the last two decades, governments and development organizations must continue to invest in electrification to achieve critical health, environmental, and livelihood outcomes, according to new research published by the Worldwatch Institute for its Vital Signs Online publication.
Between 1990 and 2008, close to 2 billion people worldwide gained access to electricity. But the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that more than 1.3 billion people still lack access to electricity, while the United Nations estimates that another 1 billion have unreliable access. The UN General Assembly has designated 2012 as the "International Year of Sustainable Energy for All," providing an opportunity to raise awareness of the extent and impacts of the electrification challenge.
"Modern energy sources provide people with lighting, heating, refrigeration, cooking, water pumping, and other services that are essential for reducing poverty, improving health and education, and increasing incomes," write report authors Michael Renner and Matthew Lucky. "It will be difficult to achieve a number of the UN's Millennium Development Goals without improving energy access." Among the UN goals, targeted at 2015, are combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases and eradicating poverty and hunger.
At least 2.7 billion people, and possibly more than 3 billion, lack access to modern fuels for cooking and heating. They rely instead on traditional biomass sources, such as firewood, charcoal, manure, and crop residues, that can emit harmful indoor air pollutants when burned. These pollutants cause nearly 2 million premature deaths worldwide each year, an estimated 44 percent of them in children. Among adult deaths, 60 percent are women. Traditional energy usage also contributes to environmental impacts including forest and woodland degradation, soil erosion, and black carbon emissions that contribute to global climate change.
Electrification varies widely between rural and urban areas in developing countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, the rural electrification rate is just 14 percent, compared with 60 percent in urban areas.
"As new approaches to electrification evolve----ones that don't rely on expensive regional or national grids but rather a diversity of locally available energy resources----we can begin to reach for the goal of access to electricity for all, rural as well as urban," said Worldwatch President Robert Engelman. "But access to electricity needs to be based wherever possible on low-carbon energy, since we need to preserve a climate conducive to health and well-being."
Improved cook stoves can play an important role in reducing energy poverty, enabling people to utilize more modern fuels or to use traditional fuels more efficiently. Improved cook stoves can double or triple the efficiency of traditional fuels, reducing indoor air pollutants. Consuming less fuel also saves time and money, leaving people with more disposable income and allowing them to invest more in their futures.
SEE OTHER TOP STORIES IN THE ENERGY DIGITAL CONTENT NETWORK
A growing number of governments, international agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and businesses are working to overcome energy poverty, focusing in particular on the use of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. To date, 68 developing-country governments have adopted formal targets for improving access to electricity; 17 countries have targets for providing access to modern fuels, and 11 have targets for providing access to improved cook stoves.
According to the IEA, some US$1.9 billion was invested worldwide in 2009 in extending access to modern energy services, such as electricity and clean cooking facilities. The agency projects that between 2010 and 2030, an average of $14 billion will be spent annually, mostly on urban grid connections. But this projected funding will likely still leave 1 billion people, largely those who live in the most remote areas of developing countries, without electricity. Average annual investments will need to rise to $48 billion to provide universal modern energy access, the IEA reports.
Further highlights from the study:
Edited by Carin Hall
Awesense launches digital clean energy marketplace
Awesense has launched what it claims is the only energy-focused repository of solutions built to drive the industry's decarbonization agenda.
The Awesense Marketplace aims to provide a common framework for companies to collaborate towards the future of clean energy and digital transformation, uniting applications, solutions and algorithms to solve energy and grid challenges.
Solutions listed on the marketplace cover a range of cases, and launch companies include Doosan GridTech, Kitu Systems, vadiMAP, LO3 Energy, ENGIN, Utilidata, Clir Renewables, ChargeLab, SensorLink, Exeri, Easy SmartGrid, and Athena Power.
“We are welcoming a new era in the decarbonization of energy systems,” said Mischa Steiner, CEO of Awesense. “The goal of achieving a clean energy future requires collaboration amongst key industry players in the utilities and energy sectors. Sharing resources through the Marketplace means that our customers and partners have a truly seamless approach as we work towards our common goal - ultimately, decarbonizing the world’s energy system.”
Utilities, consulting companies, and other organizations struggle to develop solutions that can be scaled across many jurisdictions due to complex data integration and the lack of a standard, open data model. Using the solutions offered throughout the Marketplace, organizations can rapidly accelerate their transition to a decentralized, decarbonized future and develop solutions that are scalable across industry. The platform will open up new revenue streams in areas such as:
Distributed energy resource integration and control
Electric vehicle charging
Demand response and smart-home management
Intelligent asset management
Advanced distribution system management
The new marketplace builds on Awesense's Digital Energy Platform, a digital twin based energy analytics platform that allows utilities to scale at the same pace as the rapidly changing technology landscape of the energy grid.
Together, the Open Energy Data Model and the Awesense Marketplace removes hurdles around data mapping and transformation, expedites data preparation and refining, and provides a common framework for companies to collaborate.
“The energy-specific data model allows utilities, technology companies, consulting firms, and other vendors to build solutions that can be easily integrated by other energy companies, to make a real impact on the industry as a whole, and develop new revenue streams for their organizations” said Steiner. “We’re looking forward to seeing the Awesense Marketplace grow as more partners committed to energy decarbonization join us.”
There are no simple solutions to putting the world on a sustainable path to net-zero emissions, according to the IEA. Reducing global CO2 emissions will require "a broad range of different technologies working across all sectors of the economy in various combinations and applications." it notes.
Renewable Energy Hub of South Australia formed
Amp Power Australia has established the Renewable Energy Hub of South Australia, a strategic portfolio of large scale integrated Solar PV, Wind and Battery Energy Storage assets located in South Australia. The hub also includes the siting of the Spencer Gulf Hydrogen Energy Ecoplex, forming part of the South Australian Government's Hydrogen Action Plan.
The portfolio, acquired from EPS, includes three large Solar PV projects totalling over 1.3 GW of generation, located at Robertstown (636 MW), Bungama (336MW) and Yoorndoo Ilga (388MW) with a total BESS capacity of up to 540MW across the portfolio.
Amp's expansion in Australia will include the implementation of Amp X, a proprietary digital energy platform 100% owned by Amp, which provides a diverse portfolio of disruptive and interoperable grid edge solutions, and includes a smart transformer, which enables real-time autonomous management and optimised dispatch of all forms of distributed generation and loads across the grid.
Palmetto recently opened its marketplace in Arizona, and is now serving 20 states across the country, claiming its proprietary technology, marketplace business model, and consumer mobile application "are all designed to democratize access to clean energy".