The need of a paradigm shift towards sustainable energy access projects

Between 1990 and 2010, the number of people with access to electricity has increased by 1.7 billion.[1] In 2016 an estimated 1.2 billion people did not have access to electricity which is 15 million fewer than reported in the previous year.[2] As the numbers show, energy access is increasing a lot. With the continues growth of the global population, sustainable energy access for all is an increasingly challenging task. With fossil fuels still dominating the energy supply, the acceleration of energy access causes climate problems. Ensuring universal access to affordable and sustainable energy access (SDG7) means investing in clean energy sources. Photovoltaics (PV) seems suited for providing clean energy to rural areas in developing countries where general electricity access is still too difficult.

Over the last 50 years, the total amount of foreign aid was over $2.3 trillion US dollars. However, a lack of theoretical consensus surrounding the effectiveness of foreign aid remains.[3] Why do for example PV projects fail? Mostly, because of a lack of thorough research, management and planning. As a result, an overall lack of a long-term vision. The first steps are taking place towards a paradigm shift from just implementing PV systems to a more holistic approach with taking the long term operation into account. But the shift is still not fully complete. Still too often projects fail. It is essential to take into account that it is not just energy access itself that will help the poor. The PV market at the bottom of the pyramid should be addressed with a lot of attention to organizational frameworks, operational details and post project aspects.

[1] http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/sustainable-development-goals/goal-7-affordable-and-clean-energy.html

[2] http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/resources/energydevelopment/energyaccessdatabase/

[3] http://dri.fas.nyu.edu/docs/IO/12361/WilliamsonRAEAid.pdf


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