Africa is undergoing unprecedented and sustained growth. By 2050, the continent will be home to at least 2 billion people – twice as many as today – with 40 percent living in rural areas.
In 2010, about 590 million African people (57 percent of the continent's entire population) had no acess to electricity, and 700 million (68 percent of the population) were living without decent cooking facilities.
If the current trends of energy access continue, 42 percent of the entire African population (655 million people) will still be without access to electricity by 2030, and 866 million people (56 percent of the population) without clean cooking facilities. The majority of the population will be deprived of the opportunity to pursue a healthy and productive life.
Whether it be lighting in refugee camps, powering wells, agricultural systems, hospitals, cell phone networks or food storage in rural parts of Africa, renewable energy sources remain in high demand.
Potentials within this area are obvious. During the last decade, technology has taken a quantum leap when it comes to renewable energy; solar panels, bio fuel and wind power technology have become refined and cost effective. There is an abundance of different possible solutions, and many are already involved in both grid expansion and small PV household solutions.
For Danish SMEs to get involved, however, there must be a certain scale to the projects - somewhere in the gap between expensive grid expansions and small scale PV lanterns.
Access2innovation continues to develop projects within this area and are currently looking at energy solutions within:
- Energy savings
- Grid connected energy
- Mini grids
Energy savings is by far the cheapest and easiest solution to adress. Danish companies have excelled in this area for many years. The possibilities are endless, as the main focus in East Africa has been on producing power, rather than reducing consumption.
Access2innovation has also supported companies that provide larger systems for grid connection directly as independent power producers, or substitute power from the grid directly at companies' premises.
Finally, there has been a focus on custom made mini grids that fit scattered villages at costs that are much lower than the national grid. The systems are financed by village consumers and different payment systems have been developed.