With investment in the offgrid solar sector reaching $276-million last year – a 15-fold increase over 2012 – the third International Off-grid Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition (Iorec), which will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, from September 30 to October 1, will aim to further improve electricity access by showcasing offgrid renewable technologies.
The event is organised by the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) in partnership with Kenya’s Ministry of Energy and Petroleum and the Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE).
“Achieving 100% electricity access by 2030 will require the pace of electricity expansion to nearly double – but this has never been more possible,” Irena director-general Adnan Z Amin said in a statement.
He noted that “dramatic” cost reductions in recent years had made renewable technologies the most economic option for offgrid electrification – even cheaper than diesel-fired generation or kerosene-based conventional lighting in a majority of contexts.
Today, roughly 15% of the world’s population lives without electricity and many more live without reliable access. Experts at the last Iorec, held in Manila in 2014, underlined that offgrid renewables offer a cost-effective, clean and reliable option to expand electricity access in rural, peri-urban and island contexts.
To achieve this, there must be a holistic approach towards energy access – taking into account water, agriculture, health, telecommunications and education.
“A growing number of governments, businesses and individuals are recognising the potential of offgrid renewables as a solution to energy access issues. We now must further accelerate offgrid renewable-energy deployment, not just for access, but for economic prosperity and poverty eradication,” Amin added.
Iorec 2016 will focus on four overarching themes: standalone systems for rapid expansion of electricity access; technology innovation to unlock new opportunities; minigrid development to meet growing demand; and the socioeconomic benefits of offgrid renewable-energy system deployment.
In parallel to the conference, ARE will organise an exhibition for the private sector to showcase renewable-energy projects and products.