More than 500 participants gathered in Nairobi on September 30, 2016 for the opening of the third International Off-Grid Renewable Energy Conference (IOREC). Organized by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the conference aimed to boost electricity access through the development of off-grid renewables. Today, roughly 15 per cent of the world’s population lives without electricity, but off-grid solutions can provide an estimated 60 per cent of the additional generation needed to achieve universal access.
Themes discussed at the conference include: stand-alone systems for rapid expansion of electricity access, technology innovation to unlock new opportunities, mini-grid development to meet growing demand and socio-economic benefits of off-grid renewable energy system deployment.
“Access to electricity is a central building block for socio-economic development. It empowers communities to increase income and productivity, gain access to healthcare and education, enhance water and food security, and improve general well-being,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “Thankfully, a confluence of factors including cost declines and technology innovations, are making it more possible than ever to achieve universal electricity access through off-grid renewables.”
Speaking at the opening session, Cabinet Secretary Mr. Charles Keter of the Kenya Ministry of Energy and Petroleum detailed the many examples of standalone and mini-grid renewable energy systems in place and under development throughout the country.
“Kenya is committed to ensuring universal access to energy by 2020. This will be achieved through exploitation of the locally available energy sources including off-grid solutions,” said Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Charles Keter, adding that his country welcomes private sector players both locally and internationally to invest in the country’s energy sector.
Mr Amin added that IOREC offers a platform to share the work being conducted in this space, and define future work on the topic that will be vital to achieving global sustainable development goals. He also mentioned that off-grid renewable energy technologies present an opportunity for transformative change as we approach electrification.