Energy Access and Power Electronics – Technology Needs and Market Opportunities

Session Organizers:

IEEE PELS Technical Committee – 12: Energy Access and Off-Grid Systems  (Jelena Popović, Sanjib Kumar Panda, Issa Batarseh, Deepak Divan) and ECPE European Center for Power Electronics (Peter Rechberger).

Motivation and objective:

Ensuring universal, affordable, and sustainable energy access is one of the biggest societal challenges of our time, and a target of the global Sustainable Development Goal 7. As of 2021, over 750 million people worldwide live without having access to electricity, and another two billion have unreliable access. The centralized electricity grid is not always the optimal choice for energy access contexts, due to environmental impact, cost, mismatch to user needs and challenges around financial feasibility. Decentralized approaches, such as solar home systems and mini- and micro-grids have emerged in response to the shortcomings of centralized grid extension, sparked private sector innovation and are increasingly being integrated in national electrification plans. However, affordability, scalability, business models, interoperability of solutions, quality, technology obsolescence and life-cycle sustainability remain as major challenges.

Power electronics technology is one of the key enabling technologies for affordable, sustainable, efficient and reliable energy access solutions. The objective of this special session is to showcase the engagement in energy access of IEEE Power Electronics Society and ECPE (and its Bavarian Power Electronics Cluster) to the broader power electronics community.

Session Set-up:

The Session consists of two parts:

  1. Presentations of IEEE PELS and ECPE on their activities in Energy Access, covering technology innovation and market opportunities, stakeholder mapping and lessons learned.

The IEEE Power Electronics Society (PELS) engaged with Energy Access through organizing a global challenge – Empower a Billion Lives (EBL-I) in 2018/2019, and by including Energy Access as a new and core topic in its long-range planning. Since then, the engagement of PELS in Energy Access has grown and is carried out through the following initiatives:

  • Empower a Billion Lives a recurring competition to foster interdisciplinary innovation in the global community to develop, demonstrate and de-risk energy access solutions that are designed to scale, are regionally relevant, holistic, economically viable and have positive social impact. The second round of competition (EBL-II) was launched in 2021 and will run until 2023.
  • Global Energy Access Forum is a multi-stakeholder platform involving industry, academia, NGOs, governmental agencies, international organizations, financial institutions with the objective to facilitate multi-stakeholder collaboration and dialogue to create alignment in goals, strategy and metrics, to achieve universal access to sustainable energy for all by 2030.
  • Technical Committee – 12: Energy Access and Off-Grid Systems was formed by IEEE PELS to provide global technical leadership in energy access. Activities are being planned to organize technical events (conferences, workshops, tutorials), special issues of PELS journals, providing inputs to standards etc.

The ECPE European Center for Power Electronics with its Bavarian Power Electronics Cluster is an industry driven research network to promote education, innovation, science, research and technology transfer in the area of power electronics. The Cluster has initiated many projects focusing on the efficient and safe integration of renewable energy into the grid. The Cluster is a consortium member of European Sustainable Energy Cluster Partnership for Africa (ESECA), whose main objective is to intensify business network collaboration among European companies from the renewable energy and smart grids sectors to develop a joint internationalisation strategy towards Sub-Saharan African markets.

  1. Panel discussion

A panel discussion will include 4 panelists including the speakers from the previous session. The panel will include a mix of experts from various types of organizations (industry, academia, governments/NGOs). The discussion will centre around technology innovation, market developments and collaboration opportunities.

Session Agenda (duration 1h):

Part 1: IEEE PELS and ECPE presentations (20min)                     

  • Peter Rechberger, ECPE and ESECA Project (10min)
  • Jelena Popovic, IEEE PELS TC-12 and Empower a Billion Lives (10min)

Part 2: Panel discussion (40min)

Positioning statements panellists 10min

  • Fabian Jochem (confirmed)
  • Dushan Boroyevich (to be confirmed)

Panel discussion 20min

Q&A audience 10min

Justification for Industry Participation:

Energy Access is a young, burgeoning sector with growing opportunities for the power electronics industry. The Energy Access challenge and opportunity has spurred enormous private sector innovation, in off-grid solar, microgrids, fintech, IoT etc. Market insights and multistakeholder findings from two organizing initiatives will provide new insights in opportunities for the power electronics industry and facilitate access to new markets in Africa.



Wednesday, 7 September 2022 (15:40 – 16:40)

Hannover Congress Centrum (HCC), Vendor Session Area, Eilenriedehalle

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