Analysis: Husk Power: Solar Energy Is Key To Replacing Diesel And Advancing Sustainable Growth In Africa
By Ankit Mishra
Insufficient development of centralised electricity grids has created a massive and heavily-subsidised diesel generator economy in Asia and Africa, where 3.5 billion people remain unserved or underserved in terms of reliable energy. According to Wood Mackenzie’s latest report, at least 17 African countries generate more electricity from distributed diesel than from centralised power grids. This scenario impacts the poorest (largely rural and farming) communities, which are also the most vulnerable to climate change. These communities are also highly price-sensitive, so the recent uncertainty in global energy markets and the escalation of diesel prices have hit them hard. While power generation and access levels in Africa remain among the lowest in the world, World Bank research notes that with renewable energy sources becoming increasingly cost-competitive, solar mini-grids are the most cost-effective form of rural electrification for nearly 500 million people.
One company already scaling these renewable-energy-powered solutions is Husk Power. A leading mini-grid developer with operations in India and Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), Husk Power signed an UN-Energy Compact this year, committing to build 5,000 mini-grids that would reduce these regions’ diesel use by 700 million gallons by 2030. At least 500 of these mini-grids will be built in Nigeria as part of the “Sunshot Initiative” that aims to benefit at least 2 million Nigerians with reliable, renewable energy by 2026 and take at least 25,000 diesel and gasoline generators offline. Manoj Sinha, the company’s CEO and co-founder, talks about the importance of “frugal innovation” in serving the unserved and underserved and provides insights into the company’s latest expansion efforts in Africa, its partnerships with regulatory bodies and policy reforms that can improve clean power supply and climate resiliency in emerging markets.
Photo courtesy of mad mags.