While the new [renewable energy] approaches enhance chances of success for the UN electricity for all objective by 2030, they also pose a threat to past power business models.
Peter Moray, director of the Global Development Utilities Telecom Council explained that every utility in the world has some challenges…. The way out would be on “how they adapt and invest in renewables.
From Rusana Philander in Cape Town, TZ Business News.
Advanced renewable energy technologies and storage solutions could in future threaten the existing business models of power utilities across Africa, the international business consultancy firm, Price Waterhouse Coopers LLP (PwC) said in a recent report .
The report was released after the recent closing of the African Utilities Conference held in Cape Town, South Africa.
PwC said the huge problem with electrification of rural areas is likely to be solved through new renewable off-grid technologies, in combination with innovative business models that involve mobile payment systems.
PwC said policymakers should support the role that a range of renewable energy off-grid technologies and new business models can play, approaches which need to be adapted to achieve the UN 2030 target of electricity for all.
But while the new approaches enhance chances of success for the UN electricity for all objective by 2030, they also pose a threat to the past power business models. While solar energy is often viewed as a solution to especially help rural areas, the revolution is quickly being embraced in the cities in the United States of America, and New Zealand.
Peter Moray, director of the Global Development Utilities Telecom Council explained that every utility in the world has some challenges, adding that the way out would be on “how they adapt and invest in renewables.”
John Gibbs, Africa Deals Power & Utility Lead analyst at PwC said: “For the millions of people who don’t currently have access to electricity, the old assumption that they will have to wait for grid extensions is being turned on its head by new technological possibilities.Currently 634 million people do not have electricity in Africa. Faster progress is needed, and we believe it can be achieved if national energy policies adopt a more comprehensive approach to energy access, embracing the new starting points for energy provided by standalone renewable technology and mini-grids.”
Discussing smart electricity metering at the African Utility Week symposium in Cape Town, a senior technician from South Africa’s power company, Eskom, Shawn Papi, said: “Our challenges in Africa are different to those in Europe.”
Meanwhile, three young men in South Africa, Matthew Alacock, Matthew Wainwright and Brian Somers have started marketing an off-the-main power grid option for village electricity supply. They are calling it “Standard Microgrid”. The innovation is a self-contained, community managed renewable power grid for rural areas.
The power generated by a renewable energy source is stored in batteries and distributed to consumers through the Standard Microgrid.
A product pitch from the innovative young men says “rather than paying a utility company for electricity by the kilowatt unit, a local Microgrid manger is provided simple tools to manage the grid and distribute subscription credit to community members connected to the grid.”
Standard Microgrid is able to balance supply and demand to ensure no electricity is wasted and the system is reliable. It does this without needing highly trained personnel to monitor the grid. The system is low-maintenance and robust, which makes it an ideal business model for rural African electrification.
Matthew Wainwright said users can buy power from the Standard Microgrid only for the hours they will need the electricity, and the system would selectively switch power off to the clients depending on their choice of time-on and times off. That is designed to help the poor proople in villanges to save money.