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Low-cost energy technologies for universal access: Preliminary candidate list of appropriate technologies, business models and enabling environment for universal access to modern heat

R. Amatya , A. González-García , R.J. Stoner , I.J. Pérez-Arriaga

Although the International Energy Agency (IEA) considers electricity as the most critical energy carrier for development, the sheer number of people relying on traditional biomass for cooking is nearly two times the people without electricity access. Under business-as-usual scenario, the number is projected to rise from 2.7 billion today to 2.8 billion in 2030. Lack of access to clean and affordable modern cooking fuels has a direct impact on health and social well being of a person. The IEA estimates that household air pollution from the use of biomass in inefficient stoves leads to over 1.9 million premature deaths per year. Among 2.7 billion people using biomass for cooking, many of them still use traditional threestone fire, which is highly inefficient and polluting. Moving the entire population to adopt clean Biogas-LPG-Electricity-Natural gas (BLEN) cookstove would be economically as well as logistically impractical. Therefore there are various intermediary technologies that will have to be considered for universal access. Advanced cookstove and solar cooker are among the few options. Modern cooking fuels such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), biofuels, and Dimethyl Ether (DME) are the ultimate clean solution for household cooking. Adoption of such modern fuels and stoves will depend highly on income level, regulatory pricing policy (subsidy), physical access to fuel (supply chain) and cultural preference. Water heating is another one of the major applications under the modern heat within residential energy consumption. Due to high equipment and maintenance cost, and unavailability of electricity/natural gas, electric and gas water-heating options are not widely used in developing countries. In most rural parts, biomass burning is the easiest way of heating water. Solar water heater is potentially a low-cost option for residential as well as commercial use that can provide modern energy access with no added fuel cost. Privately funded business models are hard to find in ventures involving universal access, primarily due to low return margins and high default risk. Most technology dissemination has been through government, non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO), or cooperative models. However, operational challenges and bureaucracies hinder progress, scalability and quality of products. Public private partnerships are increasingly becoming a common choice where just one entity cannot handle all the issues, and also it is the means of addressing salient issues and sharing risks. Apart from the financial viability, enabling regulations and energy policy can accelerate dissemination of a technology for universal access.

IIT Project: 2013 Universal Access (2013 Universal Access)

Funding entity: Enel Foundation.



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