Power to the Poorest

A stable supply of affordable electricity is a prerequisite for economic development, and yet an estimated 1.2 billion people worldwide, including 550 million in Africa and 400 million in India, lack it. But one solution, based on the local use of renewable energy, requires minimal initial investment and can be expanded over time.

BREMEN – An estimated 1.2 billion people worldwide, including 550 million in Africa and 400 million in India, have no access to electricity. Most live in rural areas where the population is sparse and incomes are low, making it uneconomical to connect homes and businesses to a grid. Nor is it feasible to generate power locally with a diesel unit, owing to high fuel costs and the need for substantial initial investment.

A stable supply of affordable electricity is a prerequisite for economic development. In fact, the consequences for people living without electricity can be dire: they may be deprived of adequate health care, or be unable to store fresh food. But one solution, based on the local use of renewable energy, requires minimal initial investment and can be expanded over time.

This “boot-strap” approach is based on the use of photovoltaics – a simple, universal, and scalable technology that is easy to maintain. Typically, in the first stage of this process, consumers would use a renewable energy source such as LED lighting, selling any surplus until they save enough money to buy lamp oil (on which Africans spend around $20 billion annually).

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