With two-thirds of the world’s population likely to still be without electricity by 2030 – despite the newly agreed post-2015 UN Sustainable Development Goal of universal access to energy – a new approach is needed that better recognises the role offgrid technology can play, a new PwC report showed.
Much-needed faster progress could be achieved if national energy policies adopted a more comprehensive approach to energy access, embracing the new starting points for energy provided by standalone renewable technology and minigrids, said PwC Africa deals power and utility leader John Gibbs.
The need to wait for grid extensions to unlock electrification for the 634-million people without electricity was “being turned on its head” by new technological possibilities, highlighted the PwC report, which was titled ‘Electricity beyond the grid: accelerating access to sustainable power for all'.
“The combination of centralised top-down grid extension with decentralised demand-driven bottom-up strategies, in the form of minigrids and especially standalone solutions, will speed up the increase in electrification levels for Africa,” added PwC senior manager and energy policy and regulation expert Georg Baecker.
The report pointed to technological advances rapidly enabling options beyond the grid, with declining solar technology costs stimulating the growth of standalone home systems and battery storage technology, which was fast evolving to play a significant role in utility-scale solar power storage.
“Together with access to mobile technology and mobile payment systems for microloans, a new era has arrived for beyond-the-grid electrification,” he said.