Bringing light where there is none

With the price of solar panels and batteries in rapid reduction, solar energy is becoming less expensive but we are a long way from guaranteeing energy for all.

It will be very difficult to reach the United Nations target of guaranteeing a supply of electricity to the entire world population by 2030. However, the International Energy Agency has claimed that between 2010 and 2018, the number of people with no access to electrical power has decreased from 1.2 billion to 860 million.

But these results are not the same everywhere and there are various degrees of improvement. India has succeeded in making electricity available to 30 million people per year. In Kenya, the quota of the population with access to electricity has increased from 18% in 2007 to 73% in 2017.

The rapid reduction in the price of solar panels facilitates the spread of solar energy but the fact of the matter is that there is still a long way to go before everyone is guaranteed access to energy and, at the present rate of progress, it will be difficult to reach this target before the end of the decade.

In particular, there is a great diversity of situations in the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. Present policies aim to double the number of people with access to electricity by 2030, but the percentage of those with access to electrical energy would only increase from the present figure of 45% to 65%, due to population growth.
It is clear that these countries require a change of gear by the governments and the various agencies, associations and companies involved.

From the many interesting experiences I wish to choose one in particular, that of Solarcentury, a company founded in 1998 by Jeremy Leggett, who changed from Greenpeace activities to entrepreneurship in the world of renewable energy. Solarcentury soon became the leading company in the diffusion of solar panels in the UK and then spread to other countries.

In 2006 Leggett founded SolarAid with a mission to bring solar energy to Africa and to fight against climate change. In August 2019, it celebrated its first two million solar lamps capable of bringing light to ten million people and bringing about a saving of 300 million Euros by eliminating the use of kerosene and its polluting effects. It is also interesting to note that Solarcentury gives 5% of its profits to SolarAid to speed up the diffusion of solar lighting.

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