Achieving 100% electrification

@Shashi thanks for asking, I believe we are far from reaching 100% electrification and doubt we will be able to reach it in 2030 unless we start taking massive action soon. For developing nations, the initial issue I would agree is infrastructure, first making it available to all their citizens, and then tropicalizing it enough so that such investment is resilient and sound and will support the potential effects of climate change and aggravated natural disasters. Then we also have the issue of financing, in the sense that many of these nations and populations still left unattended will likely be a complicated market to start with as they are not part of the formal economic system of their countries yet, so they have little to no means of paying for such services immediately, thus representing a complicated and tough business opportunity which seems unattractive for most energy companies without any governmental support.

Thus, it seems to be that the core issue with electrification comes from a lack of economic development for underserved communities and peoples who currently do not participate in our connected global economy. Perhaps by enabling local business development in these communities they will themselves seek energy options to reach electrification (even if they start with diesel generators) proving this initial demand potential would give more energy companies and startups incentives to seek to serve this market to then accelerate the pace of it.

Thanks @b0bbybaldi for these insights. In case you have come across any successful solutions which were or are being implemented to overcome these barriers, please share it with us.

Indeed @Shashi I have seen very interesting business models involving Pay-Go Systems for Africa, as well as microfinancing for that continent, as well as Asia. Those models such as Kingo in my native Guatemala or Azuri Solar in Africa have really accelerated the pace of infrastructure build-up for the last mile of underserved populations. Other business models like Paga in Africa have helped bridge the fintech gap between the developed world (the UK to be precise) and the developing world (Nigeria if I am not wrong). A solution which has caught my interest for this is the approach that Thibault and his friends at Solaris Offgrid have taken ( they have focused in building resilient software solutions and letting local entrepreneurs in Africa make use of their platform so that they can create their own business and grow. Although they are still small compared to others I believe their solution to be very sustainable long term and an interesting model if we were to take to another scale for not only providing electricity to the last mile but also making electricity infrastructure more resilient for areas of the world prone to natural disasters such as the Caribbean or Pacific Islands which are constantly hit badly by storms that disrupt their power grids (with small solar + storage solutions and a sound island grid system one could address such problems).

Thanks @b0bbybaldi for sharing these solutions.

Hi @massimoguarnieri and @Zita - What are your thoughts on biggest barriers to securing more equitable and affordable access to energy?

We need to convert or mimic Elon’s Giga factories into millions of small, federated engines that power small communities in millions of villages… may be starting with Africa.

Thanks @anis for sharing your thoughts. Curious to know what could be the challenges if someone thinks of implementing your solution? Have you come across anywhere similar model being implemented?

@b0bbybaldi Thanks so much for your insights and sharing what you know about these innovative companies doing really amazing work bringing electricity to as many communities around the world as possible. Digging into this a bit deeper, in your view why are these kinds of businesses not as profitable and prolific as they deserve to be in order to advance to next levels of scale (reach more people, and/or provide power to supply higher energy-use appliances for refrigeration, cooking, or heating)?

Hi @JessicaYoon that’s a really tough question indeed. We struggled with which it ourselves, what we found is that unfortunately the people that needed such solutions the most have no financial backing to support them. For example, we entered the Puerto Rico market while they were dealing with the effects of several hurricanes having destroyed their grid, we talked with a local bank and even got a financing option for them but all the clients that were really interested in requesting such services had either not enough money to get them or not of a strong enough financial background to get the credits, and this was while such solutions were needed and competed in availability with the local grid. Thus as you can see this has been mostly a financing issue as most people are not able to afford, even with credits the solutions that would really help them. Lower end solutions have expanded easily as they are lower risk for financing institutions to do so and lower costs equipment also means lower investment on the leap of faith assumptions.

Hi @YessicaYoon, I think it has been illustrated in this forum that the current energy access scenarios are far from being satisfying and current strategies have not been able to succeed at scale despite a number of inspiring pilots. Our strategies need to change: 1.Shift the focus on energy - focus on value creation and income stabilisation - energy is just an instrument. 2.Stop financing the ‘usual suspects’ from the Western world who build expensive top-notch solutions that are not operationally/financially sustainable. We don’t need more white elephants. Focus on local SMEs and market growth. 3. Bottom-up instead of top down: Stop talking about local communities, include them strategically. Enable Governments and the Private Sector in developing countries to take more responsibilities in the processes. 4. There is no global blueprint but similar traits. Strategic & operational solutions must account for the local context.

@Access600 - Welcome Dr. Susann to the XPRIZE community!
Thanks for sharing these insights. In case you know of any place where the solutions mentioned or similar ones are being implemented and are successful in creating huge impact, please share it with us.

@b0bbybaldi thank you for your reply to my question. Your experience really solidifies what I was curious to better understand (and frankly afraid of what the answer might be), that the CapEx costs are difficult to pay for and the financial institutional perceive them as too high of a risk, thereby stifling more expansion and investment. In that sense, do you feel that the XPRIZE model (one-time, large injection of cash+good PR) would benefit this field of tech/businesses, or does the key to sustainability for these models lie elsewhere?

@JessicaYoon I believe that this specific challenge would be best addressed through governmental activism, as sufficient technology exists already but it has not yet had the support that other energy sources had in the past. That said, having an Xprize contest enabling for a large injection of money and good PR could provide some evidence to have these technologies gain the confidence they are still lacking from governments, small businesses, financial institutions, and common folk. Nevertheless, in my opinion, an Xprize model that might have a potentially deeper impact would be that of solutions to reduce our carbon footprint. Carbon footprint could be reduced by making alternative energy sources more available, or reducing waste, or consumerism, I believe that in this type of topic there is much more room for improvement which could be further explored by Xprize competitors.

I believe Microgrid development combined with battery backup stands as the greatest opportunity for achieving 100% electrification. Laws in my home state of Michigan, United States, prevent microgrids from even existing. Current utility monopoly, lobbying and legislative grip may be our biggest barrier. My efforts to combat this difficulty, include the upcycling of old discarded laptop batteries into new energy packs that can be charged anywhere the sun shines. I believe there to be immense potential in e-waste products being upcycled to help bridge the social equity gap in solar development.

Thanks @clabeaux for sharing your thought on this discussion. I would further like to understand if
you are facing any challenges in your efforts to upcycle e-waste products?
Also do you know of any region / city where the said solution of microgrid development combined with battery backup has been implemented and is successful?

There are certainly and always challenges making us fall forward! The biggest challenge has been consistent team development, which perhaps is the human in us. Choosing the safest approaches moving forward has slowed our progress but has also made for a safer end product. As for technical challenges, locally and affordably made BMS units has been an issue. Based on communications with other projects doing similar work, I believe this will begin to change soon.

I see examples of successful microgrids all the time but am struggling to immediately find the examples. My favorite work is coming out of Athens, OH
This is one story out of Ohio which is leading the way with many DER projects. I will share more microgrids projects as they cross my feed! Additionally, our work at Michigan Mosaic Energy Cooperative,
twitter often captures this work.

The stats from the UN that this forum has focused on are hiding a much bigger issue. Many of the areas in the 89% “electrified” category do not have sufficient generation and grid capacity to service the addressable electrical energy demand in their markets.

Examples include:

We should be thinking not just about connecting the last 11% and affordability in low purchasing power countries, but also affordability, maintainability, and extensibility in all power grids worldwide. Especially considering that most emissions are generated by non-electrical energy sources

More use of autonomous systems for deployment & maintenance, faster permitting of new and replacement grid projects and substations (and ability to build substations in public rights of way, etc.), lower cost and more easily maintainable & replaceable switching and transformer equipment, etc. will help economical improve the capacity of all grids, as well as potentially make it easier to reach the last ~11% including with decentralized generation options as some other posters have mentioned.

One other comment - there is also an opportunity to create incentives to tie local power access to onsite generation for industrial and other users, enabling them to support the local communities if local grids can be developed to do so. Such generation could include factories, mines, etc. in these areas, as well as generator and solar-powered cell towers that serve these areas.

Thanks @adventureashr for sharing these resources and insights.
Connected to your solutions, there’s a discussion on long duration storage of renewable energy sources, you might like to share some inputs it. Thanks.

new and more stories everyday!

Thanks @clabeaux for sharing this insightful resource.