Sequoya Cross, CEO for Backwoods Solar and a Network Practitioner for the UN SE4All Initiative headed to New York this April to attend the annual Forum. The event was hosted at the re-purposed Duggal Greenhouse in the Brooklyn Naval Yard. 1,400 business leaders from over 110 countries convened to discuss energy access globally in a marketplace setting. They shared ideas, successes and challenges in an effort to educate and facilitate success in the initiative to bring energy access to all corners of the globe.
Several breakout sessions focused specifically on off-grid technologies, micro-grid implementation, and appliance efficiency in developing countries. One of the stars of this global movement is East Africa, where off-grid solar companies are flooding the market with new technological advances that center on mobile phones and mobile money. These areas of the world hinge on the use of cellular data for almost all business transactions, and access to power for charging their devices has become paramount. Small scale solar access in these remote regions has become the go-to method.
One key area that was identified (even with all of the successes discussed) is that there is still a need for more involvement and that overall, the initiative will not meet its goal of 100% access to energy by 2030. There are still 1 in 7 people living in the dark without access to power. The rate of implementation needs to double in the coming years in order to achieve the objectives. Energy efficiency was the only area that saw tangible gains within the report. The chart to the left shows the total goal, with the inner circle being where we are to date, and the middle circle where we may be at the current rate of achievement. With a gap of almost 50% for renewable energy adoption, policy makers and governments need to be a part of the adoption and change for implementation to be a success. Several African, South American, and Southeast Asian countries are leading the charge, but others need to follow their example for true global action and change.
Upon reflection of the event, Sequoya noted: “One key take away was that thinking about this as a poverty solution or impoverished country issue is not necessarily the right framework for change. This isn’t about giving people access to energy and power, it’s about building economies and improving the economic success and stability of individuals once they have access to power. By providing the framework of energy improvement, better lighting for education; better fuels for cooking; better tools for doing business, economies improve and people’s health and lives improve which enables them as individuals to have the ability to pull themselves out of poverty. This is where we can help make a difference. We as a company and as people can use our knowledge to help others help themselves. This isn’t about what Backwoods can do; it is about empowering people to raise their standards for themselves and their community.”
You can visit the website and read articles and review highlights from the event: http://seforallforum.org/