Long before COVID-19 magnified inequality, global energy systems were still reeling to overcome massive challenges. With 1.5 billion having unreliable energy access and 800 million no electricity at all, powering world economies sustainably seemed like an uphill task. However, a unique window of opportunity has opened up. Investments made now can enable an equitable, sustainable and resilient recovery, brighter than ever. How do we guide these investments for maximum impact? What would be the focus areas?
For affordable, reliable power to be made available especially for the poorest two billion, decentralized or distributed generation holds great promise. Complimenting and competing the conventional grid at the same time, distributed generation produces power closest to the source reducing transmission and distribution losses. Rapidly falling costs i.e ~82% drop in Solar PV and 85% drop in Lithium-Ion battery costs over the past decade, have made distributed energy systems more accessible, servicing the un-served and underserved. Integrating distributed generation into the core of national energy systems, thus helps bridge the gap between demand and supply – not only optimizing costs but significantly improving access.
Leveraging its advantages, most distributed generation successes have revolved around solar-home systems, improved cook-stoves and expanding renewable energy based micro-grids.