How new regulatory, financial and technology bold ideas can grow microgrid-driven access to energy

Oct 19, 2018

Source/author : Schneider Electric

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Executive summary

Access to energy in the rural, remote parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America drives both economic development and higher standards of living. Until recently however, progress in rural electrification has been slow as one in seven global citizens still lack adequate access to electricity.

Fortunately, progress in four key areas— government regulation, financing, technology, and training—have now opened the doors to accelerated rural electrification, especially through microgrids. A key driver for accelerating Access to Energy, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7), serves as a guidepost for ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. This paper reviews both methods and cases that are now driving Access to Energy project best practices.


Advancements in off-grid electrification have opened up new possibilities for the 1.1 billion people worldwide who still have no access to electricity.  This shocking number is nearly the equivalent of the U.S and European’s populations combined. However, new, digitalization-driven business models are now making it more feasible and affordable for electrification projects to be implemented in those regions of the globe that have, until now, been cut off and left to fend for themselves.

In fact, it is projected that by 2030 there will still be 674 million people without access to energy. It is for this reason that the United Nations Development Program has established Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7) as a key initiative for ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030. This paper proposes methods for achieving that goal and for overcoming the Access to Energy gap, so that no one is left behind. In fact, we believe that the goal can be attained if the right combination of technologies, modernized regulatory and financial business models, and local training is implemented. In this paper, four “bold ideas” are presented as critical steps in improving energy access. These ideas are supplemented by actual case studies that we hope will inspire readers, influencers and stakeholder to work together towards changing lives and improving communities.

A new future where access to energy empowers many more human beings and enables both prosperity and a higher quality of life is now within our grasp. This paper will review how specific “Access to Energy” initiatives–driven by a combination of simple-to-implement governmental programs, innovative business and financing models, digitalization technologies, and associated locally-based training programs–are now ushering in a new era of advanced electrification. The global goal of Access to Energy is to provide sustainable, reliable, green and safe energy access to all individuals living on the planet.

Energy is a basis of economic development and opens up new doors that facilitate access to healthcare, agriculture and better overall living conditions. From a business perspective, increased standards of living are economic drivers that facilitate the conversion of economically disadvantaged populations into large pools of new customers and consumers.

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