It’s tomorrow already for a Chicago resident here in Manila, the most densely populated city in the world and government and commercial capital of the far-flung Philippines, long known as the Pearl of the Orient. I’m halfway around the world from my home because this week the International Off-Grid Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition is in session.
Over 1.3 billion people on earth live in under- or unelectrified regions. The global conversation has recently come to view universal power access as a basic and achievable human need. We can attain it by expanding access to reliable and clean electricity. Decreasing costs have now made off-grid renewable technologies the most economic option for electrification in many remote areas currently without power infrastructure.
Oceania is an impressive case in point. Compared to grid-oriented generation from fossil fuels—particularly diesel—which must be imported at great cost, off-grid renewables offer impressive and locally based energy potential. Recent estimates conclude that world energy investments necessary to achieve universal access will be 70% for off-grid solutions compared to grid-based approaches of only 30%. (Off-grid breaks down to 45% for mini-grids, 25% for stand-alone systems).
In order to tap into the huge potential of renewables to meet the needs, the IOREC wants to enable continued engagement among all stakeholders involved in the relatively fragmented off-grid sector. So here in the storied and contrast-filled atmosphere of this exceptional Pacific island, the IOREC meeting seeks to meet three important objectives:
- Review the current status of energy access in the region based on the perspectives of different stakeholders in the process of improving access to electricity, especially in the island states and rural communities of southeast Asia;
- Collectively identify solutions to key barriers against off-grid renewable energy by leveraging on the vast cross-regional experience of conference attendees; and
- Share best practices and lessons learned about design and implementation of enabling policies, innovative financing solutions, and tailor-made renewable energy systems.
Effective policy and regulatory frameworks, coherent and site-specific business and financing models, and renewable technologies tailored to the rural context can enable widespread progress with off-grid renewable power. Only in this context can the private sector and local entrepreneurs speed sustainable development at radically reduced expense and environmental impact.
Three main entities have collaborated to engage stakeholders in the process:
• Asian Development Bank,
• International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), and
• Alliance for Rural Electrification.
All have gathered in southeast Asia this week to share insights and advance the process. CleanTechnica will be here with you throughout the conference to report on both the players and the state of the field. The goals are set, and the teams are rapidly flying in from all corners of the developing world.
For more information on the conference, check out the International Off-Grid Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition website.
Full Disclosure: IRENA is covering travel and accommodation for this trip.