Page 41 - European Energy Innovation - Summer 2014
P. 41
Summer 2014 European Energy Innovation 41


The benefit of photonic

technologies in rural areas

By Judith Ibáñez Sánchez and Carlos Lee (pictured below), Director General at EPIC- European Photonics
Industry Consortium

What can be done to bring light to the 20 percent of the global population that is still lacking electricity?
What is the role of photonics and in particular photovoltaic and energy efficient lighting?

Sunshine reaches the plants are used, in conjunction and in the case of mini-grid and
Earth as radiation in with energy storage equipment off-grid generation, more than
the form of millions of (batteries) due to the intermittent 90 % is provided by renewables,
high energy particles nature of renewables to meet the with solar being the biggest
called photons. Thanks to the required consumer demand. contributor with 36 %.
invention of solar photovoltaic
(PV) technologies it is possible The off-grid renewable energy The success of small-scale
to generate electrical power by sector has been already stepping distributed energy solutions
converting solar radiation. a foot in the market for a long has attracted the attention of
time but is still far from reaching diverse members of the European
PV technologies have brought its potential. There are still more Photonics Industry Consortium
numerous advantages to rural than one billion people, around (EPIC). Many of these institutions
and isolated areas, being 20% of the global population contribute nowadays to the
especially attractive in rural lacking electricity access, most research and development in the
regions when it becomes difficult of it concentrated in rural areas area of rural electrification.
to supply electrical power due to of Sub-Saharan Africa and
the scattered population and hard developing Asia. According PV has been widely used to
accessibility to the national power to the World Energy Outlook provide people living in remote
grid. achieving universal energy access areas with several essential
by 2030 would increase global utilities. “Access to electricity
In recent years a considerable electricity generation by 2.5 %, has a positive impact on a wide
research and development
activity has been initiated to
energize such areas through
renewable energy sources,
which are the best candidates for
supplying energy in decentralized
mode. As an alternative to
the use of fossil fuels, solar
technology lessens exposure to
oil price volatility and address
climate change, contributing to
a healthier and sustainable clean

PV systems have become widely
popular due to the market price
reduction and reduced cost of
PV technologies. In addition to
PV, several generation resources
are used in micro-grids such as
wind, hydro, diesel and biomass.
Hybrid combinations of PV with
wind generators and hydropower
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