Alternative ways of sustainable electrification
Access to energy is a basic requirement to enable the growth of underdeveloped regions worldwide. Energy improves the safety, health, economy and intellectual development of those who have access to it. To get access to energy in a sustainable, inexpensive and environmentally safe way is a great challenge that we are close to achieving. Often, the poorest communities are located in remote areas that cannot be reached by electrical grids due to geographical reasons or because it is not financially feasible to install the networks. Such communities depend on kerosene and other fuels that are expensive, dangerous and harmful to one’s health. Even though it is a problem that may seem distant for some of us, the truth is that it affects over one thousand million people worldwide. Engineers, economists and sociologists among others must work altogether to solve the problem.
One solution is beginning to bear fruit and is having a great impact in some areas with the added benefit that it could also help to fight climate change. It is the integration of off-grid solar systems in households, with innovative ways of payment such as Pay-as-you-go. This alternative energy model is a success. Firstly, because it uses the sun as fuel, which is an abundant resource in certain areas of the planet where electrification levels are low such as parts of Africa. Secondly, the technology to harvest energy is mature, safe, relatively simple in comparison with others and its costs are continuously decreasing. Thirdly, new payment systems, such as pay-as-you-go allows you to pay for the energy generation systems just as it is used. It allows people with few financial resources to have a service that was inconceivable for them in the past. Such a way of payment can be carried out using mobile phones, which makes its implementation easier in remote rural areas where alternative communication systems are few and far between. This and other models of payment that can be found in this report. The growing quality of solar products and the setting up of local networks of agents that spread information and distribute products are giving rise to the deployment of these systems and the incremental improvement of rural electrification in African and Asian countries. For example, the World Bank programme Lighting Africa brings this systems closer to Kenyan communities.
At Norvento, we are committed to solar energy as one of the keys to the present and future electrification. We carry out industrial and municipal projects instead of domestic ones, but we are excited about how the evolution of this technology is improving the life of millions of people in remote areas of the planet.
Inmaculada Saboya Bautista
Inmaculada holds a PhD in Electrical Energy from Universidad Pontificia de Comillas and forms part of Norvento’s microgrid and grid studies team. Contact Inmaculada.