Wharton Club Green Biz Forum: Off-grid Power Solutions for the Developing World

The Wharton Club of DC Green Business Forum met with Aneri Patel, Senior Associate, United Nations Foundation in Washington on April 21, 2014.  She described the joint effort by the United Nations and the World Bank to bring electricity to the 1.4 billion people around the world who do not have access at all, and to the additional 2 billion people who have intermittent access, by 2030.  Part of that initiative involves the UN Foundation, the organization created by Ted Turner in a $1 billion gift to the UN.  Among other things, the UN Foundation runs the Energy Access Program, which monitors the activities of about 1,600 organizations worldwide engaged in various programs to bring off-grid power solutions to developing countries.  The Program collects information about their activities, maintains a website where opportunities and best practices information is made public and endeavors to connect actors with both financing and partners in developing countries.  Aneri described “pay as you go solar” as one of the innovative approaches that has proved effective in many places, since it treats solar-generated electricity as a utility and also stimulates entrepreneurial activity in underdeveloped areas.  “Green towers” telecommunications assets — powered by solar or wind — also have been successful.  And the Program has also seen effective programs focused on creating microgrids in areas where there is no access to centralized grids.  Interested parties can sign up for free to get access to information about opportunities on the UN Foundation, Energy Access site.

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