News - T. Robert Fetter

Developers, donors, and customers are increasingly interested in the potential for microgrids to provide power to hundreds of millions of people who lack it, particularly in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Microgrids offer the right combination of affordability, reliability, and capacity to service areas that need more power than a home solar panel can provide, but do not have enough load density for the central grid.

According to USAID, only 4 percent of people in rural Zambia has access to power. As a part of an interdisciplinary team called Bass Connections, a Duke University student team has spent the past academic year trying to get a better understanding of the barriers to energy investment there.

The Duke University Energy Access Project aims to help achieve the United Nation’s (U.N.) seventh Sustainable Development Goal, which is to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy services by 2030.

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions’ Catalyst Program aims to build on the Nicholas Institute’s mission by increasing engagement with Duke University faculty to incubate and advance new partnerships, enhance policy-relevant knowledge, and create innovative policy solutions based on new creative synergies.

A Bass Connections team that includes the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions T. Robert Fetter took top honors for work using machine learning and visual object identification to assess electricity access at the 2018 Duke Research Computing Symposium on Jan. 25.