Across sub-Saharan Africa, 620 million people — 60 percent of the region’s population — lack access to electricity, according to the African Development Bank. As this infographic reveals, the current picture of electrical generation in the region includes substantial variation in grid-based capacity and a diverse mix of energy sources. As reported by Tom Jackson in Ensia recently, “The electrification of Africa is a process that is ongoing, with the results set to be impressive.”
Study: Climate change could overwhelm U.S. electrical grid
Climbing temperatures associated with global warming could wreak havoc on the U.S. electrical grid, according to a new study on the economic and social costs of climate change. Published last week in the scientific journal Proceedings by researchers at the University of California-Berkeley, Stanford, and University of Michigan, the study says the country will need to spend at least $180 billion on the electrical grid by the end of the century to cope with peak consumption caused by rising temperatures. Because...
Ellen Williams: The future of energy innovation
As director of the U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy, Ellen Williams plays a pivotal role in cultivating and guiding energy technology discovery and development in the United States. Ensia recently invited Williams to share her views on what we should watch for in the wide world of energy innovation in the months and years to come. What in your mind is the most important energy innovation of the past year? The past decade? The country has made some incredible strides in energy over...
Want to improve wind and solar power? Bring them together
By combining intermittent renewable energy sources through hybrid projects, developers are taking advantage of the strengths of each. What’s keeping solar and wind power from fully taking over the electric grid? For starters, the sun only shines during the day. Wind blows intermittently, is seasonally variable, and is not always blowing when the energy is needed. But what if solar and wind work together? “Wind resource tends to complement solar resource,” says Sarah Kurtz of the U.S. Department...
Africa’s green energy challenge: Mega projects, off-grid or somewhere in between?
South of the Sahara, getting electricity to 620 million people may require an all-of-the-above strategy. A 310-megawatt wind farm sprouting up in a remote, barren landscape near Lake Turkana in northern Kenya has the clean energy world buzzing — and for good reason. Africa’s largest wind farm, with 365 towering turbines, is creating more than 500 stable jobs in an impoverished area where goat herding is often the only work available. It will boost Kenya’s electric grid capacity by about 15...
Why smart utilities are embracing distributed electricity
Power companies that take initiative now can position themselves for a bright future in tomorrow’s clean energy economy The growth of distributed energy generation, particularly in the form of solar energy, leaves the aging, monopolistic electric utility system a daunting choice: Come out swinging in defense of the status quo or boldly jump into the cockpit, put on the co-pilot’s hat and fly toward the clean energy future. The second choice is not only the best option, it’s a vital move toward...