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New Energy Access Reports – February 2017

RISE – Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy, the World Bank

RISE is the first global policy scorecard of its kind, grading countries in three areas: energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy. The report is aimed at helping governments assess if they have a policy and regulatory framework in place to drive progress on sustainable energy and pinpoints where more can be done to attract private investments.

Investment in sustainable energy is affected by many factors, including market size, country risk, and financial markets, to name but a few. But a country’s policies and regulations also matter, and they are directly under the control of government.

With 27 indicators covering 111 countries and representing 96 percent of the world population, RISE provides a reference point to help policymakers benchmark their sector policy and regulatory framework against those of regional and global peers, and to develop policies and regulations that advance sustainable energy goals. Together, they provide a comprehensive picture of the strength and breadth of government support for sustainable energy and the actions they have taken to turn that support into reality.

RISE classifies countries into a green zone of strong performers in the top third, a yellow zone of middling performers, and a red zone of weaker performers in the bottom third. It will be updated every two years and an upcoming, complementary joint World Bank and International Energy Agency (IEA) report – Global Tracking Framework – will track how countries are performing on sustainable energy goals.


Operational and Financial Performance of Mini-grid DESCOs: Findings and Insights from Pioneer Benchmarking of this Emerging Sector, IFC
As part of its market development work in Tanzania, in mid-2016 IFC carried out a benchmarking exercise of twenty distributed energy services companies (DESCOs) using mini-grid technologies. The objective of this effort was to undertake a quantitative analysis “from the ground”, with a view to helping developers refine approaches to serving the market; increasing investors’ understanding of the nascent sector; and providing guidance to policy-makers and development partners on where greater support is needed.

This is a significant attempt to put numbers behind what have to date been largely anecdotal discussions on the potential for mini-grid DESCOs to be an important part of the off-grid solution, helping to close the energy access gap.  While it is acknowledged that there are some limitations in this analysis, we hope to provide a useful lay-of-the-land. Feedback is most welcome, especially as we expect to repeat the exercise in mid-2017, to follow how the market is evolving; add new companies and further segment DESCOs based on specific business models; and deepen the analysis of current operational and financial performance.


Exploring Factors that Enhance and restrict Women’s Empowerment through Electrification (EFEWEE), University of Oslo, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), Seacrester Consulting, Dunamai Energy, ENERGIA, UK Aid

The objective of this independent research project was to examine how policy and practice may enhance women’s empowerment though electrification in rural areas in the South. Women’s empowerment is considered as a process towards gender equality, hence a concept that requires analytic attention to women, men, girls and boys. The report divides the work into four sub-tasks which focus on i) the impact of electricity access on women and girls, ii) the impact of women’s involvement in supply, iii) the relationship between women’s empowerment and different types of access (grid vs decentralized systems) and iv) how empowerment in the realm of electrification may be conceptualized and measured. The results gained from each of these sub-tasks will be used to provide policy recommendations.

The scoping study comprises a desk study of policies and the general literature on gender and electricity, and outlines the methodology to be used in the subsequent empirical research. The desk study is divided into two parts; the first consists of a policy review of how gender elements are integrated into electricity policies and practices, focusing primarily on the selected countries for empirical research, Kenya, India and Nepal, and also on the role of international actors and discourses. The second part reviews the general literature on the impact of electrification on women’s empowerment and develops a framework for measuring empowerment in this realm. It also accounts for electricity’s effect on girls and boys in terms of study time and school enrollment.

The overall results show that electricity policies rarely address gender issues explicitly. National policies in the three countries are mainly attuned towards providing electricity access, making services affordable to the poor and enhancing the availability and reliability of electricity supply. Their approaches to electricity in policy, planning and programs are often gender blind. Furthermore, only in very few cases have women been involved in the formulation of electricity policy and execution of programs and projects. Electricity policies pay limited or no attention to the different needs of women and men as end-users or the potential merit of engaging both genders in supply.


Planning for the renewable future: Long-term modelling and tools to expand variable renewable power in emerging economies, IRENA

This report guides energy planners and modelling practitioners through various modelling practices and use of renewable data to better represent variable renewable energy (VRE) sources in long-term generation expansion planning. The report highlights the findings from AVRIL (“Addressing Variable Renewable Energy in Long-term Energy Planning”), an IRENA project that has identified the best practices in long-term planning and modelling to represent high shares of VRE.

The report includes two main parts:

  • Part One (Planning the transition to variable renewables) offers guidance to energy decision makers and planners by providing an overview of key long-term issues and concerns around the large-scale integration of VRE into the power grid.

Part Two (Long-term models for energy transition planning) offers guidance to technical practitioners in the field of energy modelling, specifically with a catalog of practical VRE modelling methodologies for long-term scenario planning. Topics addressed include: temporal and spatial resolution of generation expansion models, calibration of time-slices, capacity credit constraints, flexibility constraints, flexibility balance validation, coupling with production cost models, linking grid expansion needs with VRE expansion, site specific representation of generation, and transmission needs.


Delivering Sustainable Energy in a Changing Climate: Strategy Note on Sustainable Energy, UNDP

The purpose of this strategy note is to articulate – for the first time – UNDP’s role, approach and focus related to sustainable energy for the period 2017-2021. The aim is to foster internal programming coherence and clear communication to UNDP partners.

This note also provides an overview of UNDP’s key partners. The target audience is a broad range of UNDP partners at global, regional, national and subnational levels, including governments, bilateral and multilateral financial and technical institutions and agencies, civil society organizations and academia. It also targets UNDP staff working on sustainable energy-related issues across the organization.

Sustainable energy is at the centre of the new climate and development agendas and progress on sustainable energy is critical for progress on sustainable development. This strategy is therefore guided by the UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement and other key global processes. It is complementary to other UNDP strategies and frameworks, mainly to those tackling climate change and disaster, livelihoods and jobs, gender equality, youth, green commodities and trade, the sustainable and equitable management of the extractive sector for human development, and the low-emission capacity-building program.

The strategy will guide UNDP’s energy work in the years to come and will help position the organization in the context of the new development and climate agendas, comprising five sections:

  • Section 1: Highlights the purpose of this strategy, the target audience and a summary of the strategy’s main elements.
  • Section 2: Describes the linkages between energy and sustainable development and the role that sustainable energy plays in advancing the 2030 Agenda.
  • Section 3: Describes UNDP’s vision and mission, value proposition, theory of change, de-risking approach and guiding principles.
  • Section 4: Provides an overview of UNDP policy and programming support around three main action areas: energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy.
  • Section 5: Highlights key partnerships and describes how UNDP works with United Nations agencies and other development actors.

Accelerating Off-grid Renewable Energy: Key Findings and Recommendations from IOREC 2016, IRENA

To accelerate the pace of off-grid renewable energy deployment, many different building blocks have to come together. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions, and over the past decades those engaged in the energy access sector have tried a number of different approaches. In a sector as dynamic as this, dedicated platforms are needed to facilitate exchange of best practices and lessons learned.

To address this need, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) organizes the International Off-Grid Renewable Energy Conference (IOREC), a global platform for sharing experiences and best practices on design and implementation of enabling policies, tailored financing schemes, innovative business models and technology applications for stand-alone and mini-grid systems. The 2016 gathering met in Nairobi, Kenya, and convened the largest-ever audience of stakeholders from the sector. This document brings together the key messages that emerged from the two-day discussions at IOREC 2016.


Energy Provision at the Base of the Pyramid – Are there viable business models to serve South Africa’s low-income communities?, Impact Amplifier
This research paper reviews the decentralized renewable energy business models being used in poor communities, if and how they have been tried in South Africa, and the potential these models have for expansion.   As firm believers in the power of the private sector to create lasting, innovative solutions to the challenges confronting the poor, this paper is intended to support entrepreneurs, researchers, public benefit organizations, government and other institutions interested in creating economically sustainable energy solutions at the base of the pyramid.


Due diligence for financing of PV assets, Simon Turner & Paola Piazzolla

Project finance – Minimizing risk to lenders is vital in ensuring the solar industry continues to have access to adequate sources of finance. This report outlines the key ingredients for the technical due diligence needed to give peace of mind to investors.


The energy challenge in sub-Saharan Africa, Oxfam & Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley

These two reports detail the policy challenges around addressing the energy challenge in sub-Saharan Africa. The first considers the possibilities for renewable energy technologies to generate electricity for sustainable and equitable development. The second looks at the challenge of addressing energy poverty on the continent. The reports are intended as technical resources, discussion papers, and a guide for action for all those concerned with a just and sustainable energy transition in the region.


Low Cost Solar Kits and Households’ Welfare in Rural Rwanda, Michael Grimm et al.

This paper analyzes the usage and benefits of very simple but quality-certified small solar systems that were freely distributed among households in a randomized way. The 1 Watt panel and the basic energy services the Pico-PV kit provides just barely exceed the benchmark of what the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All initiative considers as access to modern energy (so-called Tier 1 energy access). At the same time, these Pico-PV kits are at the very bottom of the cost range for different electrification options. They can be used for a four diodes lamp and to charge cell phones and radios, but are not intended to provide energy for income generating activities.

Guided by a theoretical household utility framework this research examined the extent to which the kit increases households’ welfare through lower energy expenditures per lumen (the ‘budget effect’), a higher productivity in housework (the ‘productivity effect’), and a higher convenience during recreation (the ‘convenience effect’). The results show that Pico-PV kits in fact constitute an improvement compared to the baseline energy sources, mostly dry-cell batteries and kerosene.

The most important finding of the study is that total energy expenditures and expenditures for dry-cell batteries and kerosene go down considerably. This shows that beneficiaries substitute traditional energy sources instead of just increasing their energy consumption. Beyond the mere effect this perceivably has on household welfare, the usage of the lamp also implies social returns, such as major advantages for health and the environment. Since households in rural Sub-Saharan Africa are rapidly switching from kerosene or candles to LED-lamps that run on dry-cell batteries this finding deserves particular attention.