Energy efficiency is a critically important component of global efforts to provide access to modern energy services to the billion plus people worldwide who currently lack access to electricity. In tandem with the deployment of innovative off-grid energy supply solutions, such as solar home systems and mini-grids, demand-side energy efficiency can transform energy access markets by increasing the affordability of energy services.
Basic energy services such as lighting and phone charging are an important first rung in the energy access ladder, but the broader socio-economic benefits of electricity access require higher levels of energy services—encompassing household, income-generating, and community applications such as health and education. High-quality, super-efficient off-grid appliances require less energy and reduce the size of the off-grid energy systems needed to run them, lowering costs considerably and making modern energy services affordable for a greater share of the world’s population.
For example, research commissioned by the Clean Energy Ministerial’s (CEM) Global Lighting and Energy Access Partnership (Global LEAP) shows that coupling solar home systems with super-efficient appliances, including a TV, fan, mobile charger, and LED lights, requires 75% less power and reduces overall costs by as much as 50%.
This nexus between energy efficiency and energy access is an area of tremendous opportunity. Global LEAP partners are working to support thriving commercial markets for off-grid appliances and equipment. This work includes the Global LEAP Awards program, which recognizes high-quality and super-efficient off-grid appliances in key product categories, and PlugFests, which help off-grid energy service providers and appliance manufacturers connect, identify interoperability barriers, and exchange information.
Another effort is also taking place through the CEM, led by Global LEAP in partnership with Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All). The Efficiency for Access (E4A) Coalition is a global campaign to harness the game-changing power of energy efficiency to drive universal access to enhanced energy services beyond lighting by 2030. E4A was launched at COP21 as a Year of Action to mobilize commitments from public- and private-sector partners to support the development and deployment of these technologies, accelerating progress towards the recently announced Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) targeting universal energy access.
By working on both sides of the energy access equation—supporting markets for both quality off-grid clean energy supply technologies and super-efficient off-grid appliances—Global LEAP and its partners are helping to transform the lives of households and communities around the world.
This article was originally published in IPEEC’s Energy Efficiency Magazine for COP22.