New Data Platform Helps Governments, Entrepreneurs Expand Access to Clean Electricity in East Africa

World Ressources Institute

WRI’s new Energy Access Explorer platform leverages satellite imagery combined with local data to visualize energy supply and demand. With more than 20 geographic datasets (everything from renewable energy potential to grid connections and the locations of schools and hospitals) the platform equips electricity planners, impact investors, development finance institutions and clean energy entrepreneurs with the data they need to provide low-cost power to more unserved and underserved people.

Energy Access Explorer shows that there is significant renewable energy potential in unserved and underserved areas of East Africa. For example, data on Energy Access Explorer reveals that clean energy can help provide reliable power to vitally important facilities like schools and hospitals, which often lack stable electricity or rely on expensive back-up power systems like diesel generators:

82% of areas housing Kenyan schools and healthcare facilities have strong solar power potential and 68% have strong hydropower potential;
98% of areas housing Tanzanian schools and healthcare facilities have high solar potential and 69% have strong hydropower potential; and
93% of areas housing Ugandan schools and healthcare facilities have high solar potential and 60% have strong hydropower potential;
Energy Access Explorer includes an Assistance Need Index, based on energy demand, economic activity and access to infrastructure and resources. It shows that 35% of Tanzania’s high-solar-potential areas are located where donor aid is needed most and 51% of the population is in areas where donor aid is needed could directly benefit from small hydropower.

“To effectively plan for expanding electricity access, we need more data on the demand side — not just on supply. Thanks to Energy Access Explorer, which provides satellite data and cutting-edge technology, we can achieve a better understanding of where there’s a market for solar home systems in East Africa and provide lighting, phone charging, TV, and radio to more unserved and underserved people,” said Denis Bomugisha, Data Product Manager at Fenix International.

Until now, electricity planners and suppliers have often been disconnected, using different tools and metrics to determine where supply was needed, versus where renewable energy could be installed. Energy Access Explorer was specifically designed to overcome this hurdle by combining more than 20 data sets on energy potential, population density, topography, income distribution and more. Going beyond traditional tools to include critical infrastructure like schools, hospitals, and farms will dramatically increase the effectiveness of electricity planning to bring energy where it is needed most. Initial data comes from Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya, with plans to take the platform global over time.

Energy Access Explorer’s data and analysis enables entrepreneurs and off-grid developers to identify opportunities to expand their markets by visualizing where customers are located and where demand for electricity may be high. By demonstrating where there is demand, the platform enables investors and development finance institutions to determine where their funding for electrification can be most impactful.

Read more about how the tool can be used in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya on the World Resources Institute blog or download the document about Data and Methods.

 


 

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