News - Energy Access

As revenue-starved utilities and governments search for places to save money in the pandemic-induced recession, investments in things like maintenance, infrastructure upgrades, and improved metering technology are getting shelved. Yet these are essential tools of utilities to increase reliability, reduce losses, and shift the culture of bill non-payment that has made the power sector Africa’s Achilles heel and slowed development for decades, write Jonathan Phillips, Robyn Meeks, and Victoria Plutshack.

Twelve graduate student teams have been selected to compete virtually for $15,000 in prize money during the 8th annual 2020 Energy in Emerging Markets Case Competition, one of the signature events of Energy Week at Duke to be held Nov. 9–12. The competition is organized by the Duke MBA Energy Club and sponsored by the Energy Access Project at Duke.

Unreliable energy access presents additional challenges to developing countries responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rob Fetter told Energy Voice that off-grid solutions could be implemented relatively quickly to help address the issue.

Electricity enables health systems to detect, prevent, and treat infectious diseases. But nearly a quarter of health clinics in sub-Saharan Africa lack power, and only 28 percent actually have reliable supplies. The Energy Access Project's Rob Fetter and Jonathan Phillips write that there is a critical opportunity to make health facility electrification a central pillar of both near-term response to COVID-19 and longer-term efforts aimed at economic recovery and enhanced resiliency in this region.

A new blog post for the Brookings Institution—co-authored by the Duke Energy Access Project's Rob Fetter—addresses the importance of reliable electricity access for monitoring and treatment of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, in sub-Saharan Africa. The post highlights the value of off-grid solutions for health clinics far from the central grid, among other elements.

The “25x25: End Energy Poverty Faster” project, submitted by the 25x25 Electricity Access Acceleration Collaborative, was among the top contenders for a $100,000 philanthropic grant selected as part of a unique joint program with Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and Columbia Business School’s Tamer Center for Social Enterprise. The Duke University Energy Access Project is part of the collaborative.

In a new policy brief, Duke University's Energy Access Project, in collaboration with the Energy Access team at CrossBoundary Group, looked at the experiences of seven countries that have made great strides in bringing electricity to their rural populations: Brazil, Chile, Laos, Peru, South Africa, Thailand, and Tunisia. Despite widely different circumstances and initial electrification rates, there are important similarities.

Technologies like geospatial imagery, machine learning and affordable batteries are generating ever more innovative ways to target customers with off-grid energy solutions. But according to analysts at the Duke University Energy Access Project, public policy is struggling to keep up with these rapid-fire developments, leaving vast amounts of human capacity and productivity untapped.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced that “25x25: End Energy Poverty Faster,” submitted by the 25x25 Electricity Access Acceleration Collaborative, was one of the Top 100 proposals in its 100&Change competition for a single $100 million grant to help solve one of the world's most critical social challenges. The Duke University Energy Access Project is part of the collaborative.

The Energy Access Project at Duke, in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank and Sustainable Energy For All, have developed an Energy Access Dividend for Haiti and Honduras with the aim of quantifying the benefits of accelerated access and increased reliability in those countries.