Electricity for the Developing World

Sources of heat, such as traditional ovens, are common in developing countries but electricity is in short supply. For example in Africa, outside of urban centres, 85% of the population are without electricity.

According to this article in the IET:

Life without electricity might feel like an apocalyptic scenario in the developed world, but for those living in rural Africa it is a fact of everyday life. According to figures from the International Energy Agency, 59 per cent of the population of Africa has no access to electricity.

Outside the urban centres that figure rockets to 85 per cent. In order to improve living standards and increase the average life expectancy, which currently sits at a lowly 49 years, the provision of sustainable energy sources to isolated communities is essential.

Current development trends suggest that by 2030 almost 600 million people will still lack access to electricity across rural Africa. However, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) experts believe the continent’s renewable energy resources have the potential to support future national economic growth and local development.

The impact of electricity supply in non-urban villages in developing countries goes far beyond improved living conditions. Access to electricity increases agricultural efficiency and allows many of the women who work from the home to develop their own businesses. The Asian Development Bank conducted a study which illustrated the clear benefits electricity provides by comparing rural homes in India with and without access.

Electrified households:

  • Derive proportionately more income
  • Take a fewer number of sick days from work
  • Provide a better educational environment for children

Remote sites are sometimes supported by diesel generator sets, but these require frequent shipments of fuel and are expensive to operate. Solar is often proposed as a better solution, however solar is an expensive option and is only viable at low capacity.

Our vision is to one day be able to offer a very low cost heat recovery device that could generate significant electricity from the heat of a traditional oven. This is an example of how a single core design with costs driven down by high volume production across multiple markets can find new applications with far reaching implications.