Distributed renewables play an increasingly important role in promoting energy access, already accounting for 6 gigawatts of capacity in the developing world, with an expectation of providing over 60% of new electricity connections in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2030. New analysis in Escaping the Energy Poverty Trap shows that national governments need two things to succeed in creating markets for distributed renewables: 1) institutional capacity and 2) local accountability mechanisms.
A thriving private sector in distributed renewables is shaped by effective government policy, from funding research and development to setting subsidies. This starts with a basic interest in energy access.
The number of countries with strong policy frameworks for sustainable energy more than tripled – from 17 to 59 – between 2010 and 2017, and many of the world's largest energy-consuming countries have significantly improved their renewable energy regulations since 2010, according to RISE 2018, a new World Bank report charting global progress on sustainable energy policies.
Progress was even more marked in energy efficiency, with the percentage of countries establishing advanced policy frameworks growing more than ten-fold between 2010 and 2017. And among countries with large populations living without electricity, 75 percent had by 2017 put in place the policies and regulations needed to expand energy access.
When the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) was founded eight years ago, the general public thought that renewable energies would never replace oil and coal. Today, the tables have turned. Dr. Frank Rijsberman has been the director general of the institute since 2016, and for him, green growth is no longer a matter of morality, but of economics. Renewable energies are now cheaper than fossil fuels. They create employment, do not pollute and provide countries with the amount of energy they need. Last week he joined several side events at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
GGGI is an intergovernmental organisation that works with over 60 countries. It seeks commitments among governments and private companies to switch to green growth—economic growth that takes into account environmental sustainability. The organisation, based in Seoul, South Korea, works mainly with governments that express an interest in sustainable growth. Its work does not directly depend on changes in administrations.
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, has committed $25 million in financing to the Solar Energy Transformation Fund LLC, which will provide loans to companies developing off-grid solar products and solutions for the millions of people in Sub Saharan Africa and Asia who lack access to electricity.
The Solar Energy Transformation Fund is managed by SunFunder, a solar energy finance business working to make off-grid solar lighting and energy solutions more widely available in developing countries. Solar power is an effective way to bring cleaner and more affordable electricity to people who live in remote areas that are not connected or have unreliable connections to central electricity grids.