- May 12, 2021 9:08 pm GMTMay 12, 2021 7:08 pm GMT
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Does the Power Grid Still Make Sense in the 21st Century?
Access to reliable mass-distributed electricity is far from ubiquitous in Africa, particularly below the Sahara. The continent can leapfrog transmission towers and power lines, and go off-grid by developing energy distribution clusters powered by wind, solar, geothermal, and microreactors while keeping the legacy infrastructure of hydroelectric and thermal power plants without any further grid investment. The technologies of the 21st century are already in place to help the continent make the leap.
What Africa needs today is reliable electrical power. For much of the Sub-Saharan part of the continent, there is little to no electricity. According to United Nations-collected data, as of 2014, this has impacted 62% of the population.
Africa can leapfrog transmission towers and power lines, and go off-grid to a large extent by developing local distribution clusters powered by wind, solar, geothermal, and micro-nuclear while keeping the existing utility infrastructure of hydroelectric and thermal power plants without a larger investment. To go beyond local distribution of electricity, Africa may consider developing technologies such as microwave-energy transmission.
Today in Sub-Saharan Africa, off-the-grid small villages are connected to the Internet by standalone telecommunications installations like Clear Blue Technologies, a Toronto-based company. Each installation is powered by solar and battery backup and provides communities with WiFi Internet connectivity and phone service. The same technology is also delivering electrical power to villages, lighting homes and powering refrigerators and other appliances. So we know that off-grid can work.
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