Can low-income countries jump to clean energy technologies?

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Mi Michel Durbano

The world has a power problem. On the one hand, in order to cope with climate change, we need to clean up energy use in high-income countries. On the other hand, there are millions of people who still do not have access to reliable energy. As their access to energy improves, this threatens to offset some of the world’s low carbon emissions. That should not be the case – this is an opportunity for some countries to skip most fossil fuels.

Significant improvements in access to electricity are essential for low-income countries. Better energy supply, for example, is linked to education, economic development and health. According to the latest data from the International Organization for Sustainable Energy, more than 750 million people do not have access to electricity and more than 2.5 billion people do not have access to clean cooking technologies or fuel. Many electric power is limited or unreliable.

Improving this situation can be an opportunity to do things differently. Instead of developing low-energy energy infrastructure, low-income countries can jump straight to clean, low-carbon technologies.

This is not a pipe dream. In the telecommunications sector, for example, in many low-income countries, there is a complete lack of telephone lines. Instead, people have moved to use mobile phones. This has also enabled services such as banking through “mobile money”.

Jumping power in the power sector has recently been strengthened by renewable technologies and reduced costs of related technologies such as batteries. According to a recent report by the International Renewable Energy Agency, the cost of large solar panels has dropped by 85 percent over the past decade, and wind energy costs have dropped by about 50 percent. The idea that improved access is all about central power grids The common belief that fossil fuels are cheap is now emerging.

A good example of this is the solar housing program in Bangladesh, which has reached 4 million households (about 12% of the population) by 2016. He did.

Similarly, off-the-shelf solar systems now provide about 7 percent of Rwanda’s electricity. Many of these systems are sufficient to turn on televisions, utilities, and lighting.

Of course, such initiatives do not completely solve the problem of access to energy. To provide the necessary energy for industries and all household appliances, renewables must be deployed in large quantities. This also requires investment in grid infrastructure. It is important to avoid repeating Vietnam’s recent rapid increase in solar and wind investment, but many plants have not been able to fully function due to grid shortages.

So what else can be done to make it possible to jump? Recognize that most low-income countries have very low emissions and prioritize economic development and expanding energy systems to enhance universal access to energy. Fossil fuels should not be completely eliminated, but should be part of a broader strategy that prioritizes low-carbon investments. That means modifying policies and regulations to prevent harm from low-carbon alternatives, and large donations from donors to reduce the risk of adoption. Only then will low-income countries jump on the bandwagon.

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