There are 840 million people worldwide without access to electricity. According to The Rockefeller Foundation, 650 million people will still lack access to electricity in 2030. Without electricity, people have limited access to education and healthcare. Having access to power is critical for all aspects of life. Access to electricity means “small businesses of all kinds can expand and connect with outside markets.” It also helps farmers protect their crop value and boost the productivity of local agriculture. Making sure people have access to reliable electricity can help lift families out of poverty. The Rockefeller Foundation has made it its mission to end energy poverty globally.
Distributing clean and renewable energy is a big way to end energy poverty. The goal of The Rockefeller Foundation is to “dramatically accelerate the pace of electrification by leveraging the full potential of decentralized renewable energy.” The way to do this is through climate-smart energy systems. By doing this, the populations that are more vulnerable will have access to reliable energy.
Powering the last mile
In 2015, The Rockefeller Foundation launched the Smart Power for Rural Development Initiative in India, Myanmar, and sub-Saharan Africa. The initiative addresses the gap in access to affordable, dependable energy in different communities. “SPRD promotes partnerships around decentralized renewable energy solutions, specifically mini-grid electricity, to ensure that high-quality, reliable energy is provided to all segments of the community.” By providing access to renewable energy, SPRD gives local economies a chance to thrive. Smart Power India has connected 15,000 households and over 8,000 enterprises with electricity. With this initiative, local “renewable energy mini-grid companies” get the support they need. Business revenue has also increased between 35% and 52% since the program started.
While using decentralized mini-grids is a great way to provide electricity access to rural areas, the cost of doing it is increasing. To combat this, Smart Power India uses unique technological solutions, such as standardizing grid technology by using a “grid-in-a-box”, along with using irrigation to help farming communities. Also, with smart meter technology, they can modernize the operations of energy companies. These solutions are cost- and energy-efficient ways of getting the job done.
Smart Power Myanmar intends to bring access to electricity to 10 million people during the next decade. By taking what they have learned through Smart Power India, along with partnering with USAID and The World Bank, their plan is to “accelerate rural electrification access through decentralized solutions.”
Through Smart Power Africa, The Rockefeller Foundation has a three-step plan to expand access to electricity: The production of mini-grids in Sierra Leone, extending the connections with last-mile communities and developing rural mini-grids in Africa.
Electricity is a huge part of modern society, and without it, it is difficult to thrive. The Rockefeller Foundation is doing all it can to help end energy poverty by providing electricity globally.
– Ariel Dowdy