IEC calls on disruptive technology for universal energy access

Announcing the LVDC Conference on Sustainable Electricity Access, 22-23 May 2017, in Nairobi

Geneva, Switzerland, 2017-03-30 -The IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) is stepping up efforts to bring electrical energy to the 1,3 billion people who have no access to electricity, via a disruptive technology - low voltage direct current (LVDC). The IEC is hosting the inaugural LVDC Conference on Sustainable Electricity Access, in Nairobi, Kenya, on 22 and 23 May 2017, in partnership with the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS).

"Combined with some form of energy storage, LVDC has the potential to bring millions of people out of the dark. The IEC is driving the development of LVDC, making this technology safe and broadly accessible. Holding this conference in Africa will provide a real understanding of electricity access needs to IEC experts and stakeholders. We invite participation of all those concerned with the Sustainable Developments Goals, especially Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all," said Frans Vreeswijk, General Secretary & CEO of the IEC.

Energy, and especially electricity, is the golden thread that impacts the majority of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and furthermore, the development of every nation and economy. The work of the IEC directly impacts 12 of the 17 SDGs - it provides the technical foundation for the whole energy chain and all equipment that is driven by electricity.

The UN recognizes that electricity access helps to reduce poverty and hunger, improves educational opportunities and enables higher quality healthcare. In developing economies, LVDC helps governments and policy makers to rapidly improve the living conditions, livelihoods and leisure time of millions of citizens as they gain access to affordable and clean electricity. Against this backdrop, the LVDC Conference on Sustainable Electricity Access will bring together a diverse group of stakeholders including policy makers, power utilities, equipment manufacturers, NGOs, technology gurus, industry experts, systems engineers, funding agencies and insurers.

"I urge all stakeholders to register and attend the conference which will be a thought leadership platform to effectively engage with policymakers and regulators. This event will help us to gain the technological and economic information needed to evolve LVDC standards and drive the technologys commercialization," said Charles Ongwae, Managing Director, Kenya Bureau of Standards.

The recent evolution of LVDC
LVDC is a disruptive technology that fundamentally changes and accelerates energy access. Over the last twenty years several mega-trends have created a groundswell of demand for LVDC. The need to mitigate the effects of climate change has seen a renewed focus on Energy Efficiency and sustainability, taking power generation increasingly towards renewable sources and away from fossil fuels. In addition, the cost of energy generation from solar photovoltaics (PV) has become more accessible, while LED lighting has made the conventional incandescent lamp a thing of the past.

Without realizing it, today we live in a "direct current" world, with most of our electronic devices already being able to use current that is produced by renewable sources directly, without conversion. As a result, LVDC is seeing a growth in uses like data centres, e-mobility and related infrastructure, urban homes and buildings for lighting and other applications, public distribution, DC micro-grids, and storage etc.

These trends challenge the traditional model of electricity distribution via alternating current (AC). Also, many of the technical issues that blocked the development of DC are no longer an obstacle. A diverse group of global experts in the IEC is currently preparing the technical foundation needed for the broad roll-out of LVDC.

Vimal Mahendru, Chair of the IEC Systems Committee (SyC) on LVDC, and IEC Ambassador said, "For areas where grid connection is too expensive, LVDC is the only economic way to provide electricity access to everyone: it is clean, safe and affordable. The applications for LVDC are wide, varied and apply in every country in the world. This conference is your opportunity to input your local needs and requirements; to hear about economic benefits linked to LVDC; and to contribute to the development of key performance and risk assessment indicators to allow regulators and systems administrators to benchmark LVDC solutions."

About LVDC
In technical terms, direct current is constant and flows in one direction. In opposition, alternating current periodically reverses direction in a wave-like pattern. Currently, electricity is converted to AC to be converted back to DC for use by DC driven devices, sometimes multiple times. Using Renewable Energy as DC electricity is more efficient and generates less e-waste in the form of transformers and power adaptors.

Solar cells and other renewable power technologies produce DC power and batteries receive, store and deliver DC power. All electronics and battery driven devices use DC power, which today is often transformed from AC. Everything, from electric vehicles, renewable energy technology, kitchen appliances, lighting, transport, smart phones and tablets to systems with data and embedded electronics, such as the Internet of Things, smart homes and Smart Cities, runs on DC.

Standardization work for LVDC is perhaps one of the biggest societal impact initiatives undertaken by the IEC. It requires a concerted effort by all stakeholders. For further reading, please see the article in e-tech of June 2015 and also visit the SEG4 and Syc LVDC.

About the IEC
The IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) is the worlds leading organization that prepares and publishes globally relevant International Standards for all electric and electronic devices and systems. It brings together 170 countries, representing 99.1% of the world population and 99.2% of world electricity generation. More than 20 000 experts cooperate on the global IEC platform and many more in each member country. They ensure that products work everywhere safely and efficiently with each other. The IEC also supports all forms of conformity assessment and administers four Conformity Assessment Systems that certify that components, equipment and systems used in homes, offices, healthcare facilities, public spaces, transportation, manufacturing, explosive environments and during energy generation conform to them.

IEC work covers a vast range of technologies: power generation (including all renewable energy sources), transmission, distribution, Smart Grid & Smart Cities, batteries, home appliances, office and medical equipment, all public and private transportation, semiconductors, fibre optics, nanotechnology, multimedia, information technology, and more. It also addresses safety, EMC, performance and the environment.

Kenya Bureau of Standards
Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) is a statutory body established under the Standards Act (CAP 496) of the laws of Kenya. KEBS commenced its operations in July 1974. The KEBS Board of Directors is known as the National Standards Council (NSC). It is the policymaking body for supervising and controlling the administration and financial management of the Bureau. The Managing Director is the Chief Executive responsible for the day-to-day administration of the Bureau within the broad guidelines formulated by the NSC. Standards provide a common reference point for the assessment of the quality of goods and services. Standards ensure that products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality. For business, they are strategic tools that reduce costs by minimising waste and errors and increasing productivity. They help companies to access new markets, level the playing field for developing countries and facilitate free and fair global trade. For more information, please visit

LVDC Conference on Sustainable Electricity Access
Hotel InterContinental Nairobi; 22 - 23 May 2017, Nairobi, Kenya

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