According to a new report by IRENA, off-grid renewable energy has had spectacular growth in the past decade. Capacity has tripled since 2008 and the number of people in rural communities served by off-grid renewable energy now reaches up to 133 million people.
The report demonstrates that off-grid renewables are emerging as a solution to broaden the reach of electricity beyond the grid infrastructure. By doing so, it is helping to expand access to electricity and thus contribute to the UN SDG 7 goal for universal access to clean, reliable and affordable energy.
Asia is identified as a global leader in off-grid renewable capacity deployment with up to 76 million people benefitting from this energy source. Africa has emerged as a dynamic market with innovative deployment and financing models such as pay-as-you –go and mobile payment options. Currently, 53 million people in Africa access off-grid renewable energy.
IEC 62257 on rural electrification
To help bring electrical energy to some of the 1,3 billion people without access or with only limited energy access, the IEC, World Bank Group and United Nations Foundation have a cooperative agreement to provide developing countries with access to important technical documents that support rural electrification.
The IEC Technical Specification 62257 series recommendations for small renewable energy and hybrid systems for rural electrification outlines international best practice solutions to support energy access in developing countries across a range of technologies, including off-grid renewable energy sources. The three organizations are cooperating to offer discounts to qualified stakeholders purchasing documents in the IEC TS 62257 series.
The IEC 62257 series contains numerous technical specifications which address three main topics – introduction to rural electrification; project management and implementation guidelines; and technical specifications for components and systems.
LVDC is a new way of transmitting power that can help remote and rural locations to access electricity. It differs considerably from the conventional centralized model of distributing electricity via alternating current (AC). In the centralized system, electricity is generated in large utility plants and then transported through a network of high-voltage overhead lines to substations. It is then converted to lower voltages before being distributed to individual households.
With LVDC, power is produced close to where it is consumed and does not need to be converted for use in households. A number of LVDC projects have been rolled out in India where the technology is viewed as one of the solutions for bringing electricity to the millions of homes which still have limited and intermittent access to power.
The IEC has recently set up a Systems Committee, SyC LVDC, tasked with providing systems level standardization, coordination and guidance in the areas of LVDC and LVDC for electricity access.