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GSR 2015

RENEWABLES 2015 GLOBAL STATUS REPORT 23 DISTRIBUTED RENEWABLE ENERGY FOR ENERGY ACCESS PROVIDING ESSENTIAL AND PRODUCTIVE SERVICES More than 1 billion people, or 15% of the global population, still lack access to electricity. With a total installed capacity of roughly 147 GW, all of Africa has less power generation capacity than Germany. Moreover, approximately 2.9 billion people lack access to clean forms of cooking. Distributed renewable energy technologies are helping to improve these numbers by providing essential and productive energy services in remote and rural areas across the developing world. Renewable technologies are playing a large and growing role—via individual household systems and by powering a rapidly growing number of mini- and micro-grids—largely because renewables are cheaper and more convenient than conventional options. In addition to the further spread of existing, well-established technologies (solar home systems, pico-hydro stations, solar thermal collectors, etc.), 2014 witnessed the evolution of new types of equipment, configurations, and applications. These include simple and inexpensive pico-wind turbines for powering remote telecommunications; solar-powered irrigation kits; and digitisation of ancillary services and monitoring, which allow for improved after-sales services and reduce costs so that companies can reach more people. Several factors have resulted in increased funding (public and private) for distributed renewable energy. These include the increased recognition that isolated cooking and electricity systems, particularly renewable systems, are the most cost- effective options available for providing energy services and new economic opportunities to households and businesses in remote areas. As such, renewables have become vital elements of rural electrification and clean cooking targets and policies in many countries. Peru was one of the first countries to prepare and implement a reverse auction for distributed renewable energy, finalising a contract in 2014. Several countries initiated new programmes in 2014 to expand energy access through renewables—including Chile, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka advancing renewables for electricity; and Ecuador, Guatemala, Bangladesh, and India launching initiatives to advance clean cooking. Dozens of international actors were involved in advancing energy access with renewables in 2014, through international initiatives such as Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL), as well as through bilateral and multi-lateral government programmes. Multilateral financial institutions and development banks also continued to finance renewable energy projects in 2014. Alongside traditional actors, public-private partnerships and non-governmental organisations are promoting distributed renewables. Involvement of the private sector is expanding, due largely to a growing awareness that off-grid, low-income customers represent fast-growing markets for goods and services. Distributed renewable systems continued to attract investment from venture capitalists, commercial banks, and companies in 2014, as well as from less-conventional sources. ENERGY EFFICIENCY: RENEWABLE ENERGY’S TWIN PILLAR Special synergies exist between energy efficiency and renewable energy sources in both technical and policy contexts, and across numerous sectors from buildings and electrical services to transportation and industry. Although energy intensity (primary energy consumption per unit of economic output) has improved globally and in almost all world regions since 1990, there are vast opportunities to improve energy efficiency further in all sectors and countries. Drivers for policies to promote efficiency improvements include advancing energy security, supporting economic growth, and mitigating climate change. In poorer countries, increased efficiency can make it easier to provide energy services to those who lack access. To meet such goals, an increasing number of countries has adopted targets and policies to improve the efficiency of buildings, appliances, transport vehicles, and industry. In 2014, targets were in place at all levels of government, and numerous countries introduced new policies or updated existing ones in order to achieve their targets. Several jurisdictions enacted performance requirements or incentives to improve building efficiency during 2013 and 2014. Standards and labelling programmes are the primary tools to improve the efficiency of appliances and other energy-consuming products, and, by 2014, 81 countries had such programmes. By the end of 2013, standards for electric motors used in industrial applications had been introduced in 44 countries. As of late 2014, vehicle fuel economy standards covered 70% of the world’s light-duty vehicle market. To date, there has been relatively little systematic linking of energy efficiency and renewables in the policy arena. However, a small but growing number of policies has begun to address them in concert, particularly through building-related incentives and economy-wide targets and regulations.

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