Pooja Sharma

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  • Impactful partnerships for inclusive energy access at scale

    July 1st, 2019

    The renewable energy market has grown rapidly in recent years, with vast and successful national programs and initiatives reaching upper poverty quintiles. However, big areas of energy poverty remain in remote communities and hard-to-reach areas.

    Asia Clean Energy Forum (ACEF)
    Last week, I was at the Asia Clean Energy Forum 2019 (ACEF) in Manila, one of the Asia’s premier networking and knowledge-sharing events dedicated to clean energy and energy access in Asia. The theme for ACEF 2019 was “Partnering for Impact”, with five cross-sectoral thematic tracks: Energy and Livable Cities, Energy and Water Sustainability, Energy and Rural Poverty Alleviation, Energy and Innovative Finance and Clean Energy Trends and Directions.

    Presenting PPEO 2018 at ACEF 2019

    What was different this year?
    The forum provided additional networking opportunities to discuss new and innovative ideas with young entrepreneurs/start-ups. A dedicated networking reception was organised to encourage women participants to meet each other. Thirty-six per cent of participants were women as compared to 18% last year, showing a relevant growth in female participation. A dedicated app was helpful to connect with the most relevant participants from the scattered huge mass. So much liked ACEF bags were missing; instead, we were given the green gift by offsetting our ACEF travel-related carbon footprint! My carbon footprint was neutral while attending this year’s Forum!

    Trending energy topics at the ACEF
    The topics covered a broad range of the achievement and challenges in renewable energy access, energy efficiency, artificial intelligence for energy load management and electric vehicles (EVs). EVs are going to help reducing pollution in the cities and be a huge collective battery by absorbing the surplus power that some countries are going to generate in the coming years. However, there were concerns that some countries would just be shifting emissions rather than omitting emissions in case of carbon intensive grid. I also believe that other important area of focus in the coming years is definitely going to be electricity use for cooling and heating. This will help people to have access to cooling fans, refrigeration and other forms of cooling that can protect food, vaccines and overall public health. And in terms of key actors, evolution of MFIs in energy access space was recognised promising in many of the business cases presented as they have great potential to reach the last mile. They could widen their scope to energy efficiency as well.

    The India case: a successful example?
    Energy sector reform in India was presented as a successful example in reaching every household. However, it was prominent that quality and reliability issues have not allowed consumers to think beyond lighting. Fossil fuel subsidy reform or increased fossil fuel taxation in many states of India has been able to leverage the private sector investment. India and Indonesia each saved $15 bn in 2014-15 through subsidy reform.

    PPEO 18 presentation: Nepal and India
    I presented India and Nepal case from our PPEO 2018. While there were many discussions on how private sector led innovative business models helped reduce dependence on subsidies, there was a realisation for the need of public investment if we want “no one to be left behind”.

    Jennifer Holmgren, CEO at Lanza tech said, “Winning slowly is the same as losing.” Of course, we cannot afford slow progress. Practical Action will definitely continue to build impactful partnerships to accelerate clean energy goals.
    Here is a link of presentations for this year together with 2018.

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