It really comes down to three reasons:
- Rural Electrification: According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), around 600 million people in Africa don’t have access to electricity. This hinders socio-economic development. Decentralised solar energy solutions are a powerful solution. This is probably the main motivation for many people working in the clean energy field in developing world countries.
- Global Goals: At a global scale, the UN has acknowledged clean energy provision as one of the sustainable development goals that the international community must seek to implement. Goal no 7 (the magical number!) is: “Affordable and clean energy”. In Africa, as an example, we have immense untapped solar resources, that can utilized to achieve this goal!
- Economic Benefits: When more people have access to “reliable” electricity, this creates better economic conditions. People can work longer and more efficient, students education improves, and health care services improve too! Providing electricity through solar power technologies also results in giving people access to Internet-based services like mobile banking, social media networks, and online shopping. The opportunities are limitless really!
And when we talk about solar power here, we are talking about a range of services this technology can provide such as : lighting, powering water irrigation systems, mobile charging, powering fridges, TVs, fans and household devices, powering telecom systems, and powering water treatment and water heating systems.
The cost of this technology has also dropped a lot over the past years due to economies of scale and advanced manufacturing. Current installation price for systems under 100kW, according to IRENA, is $4-11/W.
Investing in solar power technologies (in the off-grid) sector is big! Around $511 million have been invested up to 2016 according to The World Bank and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). Innovative financing models (such as pay-as-you-go) are also attracting millions of dollars of funding. The solar industry is already a multi-million dollar market with lots of players from engineering, business, finance, and IT!
A final takeaway message: Solar power technology is a big market with a huge potential to elevate energy poverty and assist developing world countries achieve a sustainable development.