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The Road to Renewable Energy for All

To slow global warming, our most urgent need is to reduce the accumulation of CO2 in the oceans and the atmosphere.  At the same time, much of the world's population yearns for the advantages availed through access to more energy.

South Africa South Africa

Can the market bring affordable renewable energy to energy-poor regions in a realistic time frame?  What effect does subsidizing the construction of coal-fired plants by G20 countries have on speed with which the renewable energy market will transition?

These are some of the questions discussed in the Christian Science Monitor article, "Solar Power for Africa?"

Some positive quotes from the article are excerpted below.

“Market conditions are primed, particularly household solar that’s ready to take off,” says Chris Jurgens, director of the US Global Development Lab, part of USAID.

In many regions disconnected from the electrical grid, the cost of solar panels is going down at the same time the price of kerosene is going up. Meanwhile, digital financial services are enabling pay-as-you-go business models to reach markets in places like East Africa where they were previously unavailable. But the ability of local companies to attract private investment is one of the most important components of spurring market growth, Mr. Jurgens says.

“The fact that you have a leading cohort of enterprises that have demonstrated viable business models and are starting to attract private financing, means the market is kind of at an inflection point,” he says. “So if household solar systems are at less than a million today, the growth rates are already projected to be pretty quick.”

Still, the market for technologies like household solar is still very young in many parts of the developing world. Countries like Bangladesh, Kenya, and Tanzania are succeeding at developing markets for renewable power. But now the challenge is to replicate these scenarios in neighboring countries.

“We [the international community] should be able to put alternatives [to fossil fuels] on the table,” says Ms. Kyte at Sustainable Energy for All. “Alternatives do exist. They may be more cumbersome in terms of time, it might take more effort to stitch together the financing, but we have a responsibility to make that as easy as what’s being offered, which is the subsidized alternative of fossil fuels.”