With the productive use of renewable energy it is possible to accelerate clean energy access to rural areas. The Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE) explains how to PES.
1.1 billion people live without access to electricity and approximately 87% of these live in rural areas characterised by remoteness and sparse population density, where the extension of national grids is often technically difficult, costly and inefficient.1 In contrast, decentralised electricity generation and distribution through smaller and more local systems such as mini-grids and stand-alone systems, also called off-grid systems, are in most cases the more competitive solution.
While off-grid renewable energy is used for various consumption purposes such as lighting, access to information, comfort and entertainment, it is not sufficient by itself to trigger development in rural areas: the usage of energy should be aligned in such a way that it will trigger economic development through enhancement of income generation for the local population.
Hence, the Productive Use of Renewable Energy (PURE) could be defined as “agricultural, commercial and industrial activities, powered by renewable energy sources, which generate income.”2
Triple bottom line sustainable business
The Alliance for Rural Electrification, which is the only industry partner association of the United Nation’s Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SEforAll), with PURE, has developed a multi-level approach which is sustainable in three ways: economically as it leads to local business’ profit, socially as it leads to empowerment, as well as health and economic benefits for local people and environmentally, as the use of renewable energy limits climate change impacts.
Local businesses in developing areas can reap the benefits of extended operating hours, mechanisation, product preservation, higher productivity, improved working conditions, communication and education. PURE also enables the diversification of the economic base by making it possible for the local community to both deepen and move beyond traditional economic activities.
PURE means that local jobs, all with different levels of qualifications, are created directly, as the renewable energy equipment needs to be installed, operated and maintained, as well as indirectly, as the access to electricity favours business creation and expansion.