Energy positive communities

Technology focus

Exploring technology gaps & opportunities for deploying energy positive communities

Energy positive communities - a community pull solution

Energy positive communities operate on a local sustainable energy system that generates and delivers renewable energy to cover the living and comfort needs within local communities. But the positive impact of such energy systems on local communities goes beyond the delivery of energy services. They also help reduce poverty and stimulate local employment within communities through advancements in health, water supply, education, mobility, etc.

Micro- and mini-grids are a promising system solution for energy positive communities. The concept of these local energy networks differs from application to application: remote off-grid or island application, communities linked to the grid (hybrid mode), campus entities and industrial or commercial applications.

From recent findings to scalability

The objective of the energy discussion at G-STIC 2017 is to build on recent findings for energy positive communities and take them to a level of scalability and replicability. The unique elements we want to bring to this discussion are:

  • We start from the community perspective and needs. All recommendations to be discussed, are illustrated with real life projects and experiences throughout the world. From community perspective a distinction is made between:
    • Connected communities in more urbanised areas of developing and developed countries to tackle specific challenges on increasing electrification, e.g. mobility, housing
    • Rural communities with no or limited energy access still requiring basic living and comfort needs.
  • We build on recent findings: e.g. the comprehensive overview of technology gaps and opportunities identified in the Innovation Outlook on Renewable Minigrids or the Key Findings and Recommendations of the Third International Off-grid Renewable Energy Conference both published by the International Renewable Energy Agency in 2016.
  • We focus on cross-cutting issues: To achieve scalability the focus is not on technology components but on value chains and system solutions. In addition we need to look for synergies with other societal aspects and sectors: e.g. the link between energy, communication (IT), health and water services, the interaction with national policies on electricity grid development, the attractiveness of local communities for youth, etc.

Potential impact on SDGs

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Previous analyses have illustrated the high potential of these solutions worldwide: 40% of the energy needs in developing countries could be covered with micro/minigrids by 2030. This would require an investment of over 20 billion $/year in the years to come.

SDG 7 calls to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Progress is indicated by e.g. the proportion of the population with access to electricity, the proportion of the population with primary reliance on clean fuels and technology, the renewable energy share in total energy consumption, energy intensity and investments in energy efficiency. All these indicators are directly affected by the deployment of local renewable energy systems, and the Energy tech thematic cluster will focus on maximizing the impact of such systems in different parts of the world.

Next to a direct impact on access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy (SDG 7), energy positive communities also contribute to achieving other SDGs. Access to modern energy improves the availability of water and sanitation for local communities (SDG 6). Also, by advancing employment in local communities, it helps promote sustainable economic growth (SDG 8) and industrialisation (SDG 9). Increasing the share of local renewable energy sources will also contribute to combat climate change and its impacts (SDG 13).

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