Solar electricity: a part-solution in combating poverty and climate change in developing countries

1,6 billion people have no access to electricity in developing countries. With adapted tools within the EU development policy, photovoltaic electricity could contribute rapidly to reduce this figure.

The 5th EPIA Round-table in a cycle of 6 debates, running until December 2007, focused on the EU development policy and how photovoltaic energy can provide cost competitive, tailor made and sustainable technological solutions for rural electrification. 1,6 billion people have no access to electricity in developing countries. With adapted tools within the EU development policy, photovoltaic electricity could contribute rapidly to reduce this figure.


Up-to-date, solar electricity has largely developed in Europe thanks to active policies in favour of renewable energy. As a result, the PV sector is currently in the position to bring equipment, expertise and specialist knowledge to the developing world, in order to increase the electrification rates.

Access to energy has been identified as one of the priority areas of the European Development Policy in order to fight against poverty in developing countries. The European Commission has recently put in place programmes in order to trigger investment in sustainable energy projects in developing areas, such as: COOPENER, ACP-EU Energy Facility and the up-coming GEEREF (Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund).

It is however still unclear to what extent these programmes have succeeded, or will succeed, in financing the relatively small scale projects needed to increase rural electrification rates

"The photovoltaic technology has proven to be one of the best solutions to bring flexible and long term solutions for rural electrification in the poorest areas of the planet. Therefore the EC must ensure that their initiatives address the real energy needs and the suitable technology to provide sustainable access to electricity. A main criterion is to reinforce support to small and medium sized projects" said Ernesto Macias, Vice-president of EPIA and president of the Alliance for Rural Electrification.

It is also essential that the EU continues to address the political level in developing countries in order to promote adapted frameworks for renewable energy as well as to work against climate change. Ernesto Macias concluded that "what we need is a global energy policy that includes not only PV, but all renewables".

EPIA and the Alliance for Rural electrification therefore urge the Commission to:

- Take the potential and the effectiveness of Photovoltaic solutions into account in the EU development policy;

- Provide financing instruments adapted to the scale of rural electrification projects;

- Address the political level in developing countries to create favourable environments for renewable energies.

As representatives, not only of the PV sector but of the whole renewable sector, EPIA and the Alliance for Rural electrification also propose strengthening the dialogue between the European Institutions and the PV sector in order to ensure that the potential of Photovoltaic is fully exploited in the fight against climate change and poverty in the developing countries.

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