News - Energy Access

In developing countries, reliable energy access for health facilities is essential to maintain cold storage for COVID-19 vaccines. Rob Fetter and Cyrus Sinai write for The Conversation about how solar power could provide a solution in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Bass Connections program offers Duke students of all schools and levels an opportunity to collaborate on research addressing nuanced societal challenges. Guided by Duke faculty, students gain experience applying knowledge, research, and skills in interdisciplinary projects. Most project teams collaborate with partners outside Duke, including companies and government agencies.

Jonathan Phillips and Victoria Plutshack co-authored a new report "Lessons for Modernizing Energy Access Finance, Part 2 – Balancing Competition and Subsidy: Assessing Mini-Grid Incentive Programs in Sub-Saharan Africa" reviewing 20 mini-grid incentive programs in sub-Saharan Africa, 17 of which are still being implemented. A new blog post at Brookings summarizes their findings.

COVID-19 has led to the postponement of next month’s international climate talks at the annual Conference of the Parties (COP) to November 2021. In a post for the Brookings Institution's Future Development blog, Victoria Plutshack and four co-authors look at Chile’s ambitious voluntary coal retirement scheme as an example of how informal conversations between international stakeholders at COPs can become leverage for policy change at home.

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.