Despite many decades of global efforts directed at mass electrification, 1.1 billion people still live without access to modern electricity services. A further billion have unreliable access to electricity. According to the International Energy Agency’s most optimistic scenario, the number of people worldwide without electricity in the year 2030 is projected to remain above one billion. In sub-Saharan Africa the problem is expected to get worse, not better.
This sobering scenario provides the rationale behind the Waterloo Global Science Initiative's OpenAccess Energy Summit. It will bring together a multinational, multidisciplinary and multigenerational group of approximately 40 people from April 24 to 27 to develop a framework to address electricity provision for energy-isolated communities.
TVO is partnering with the Waterloo Global Science Initiative to make the conversations and insights of the OpenAccess Energy Summit available to everyone.
The Agenda with Steve Paikin will also be there to broadcast three programs exploring different facets of the challenge of making electricity available to all:
Indigenous power struggle
Some 175 aboriginal and northern communities in Canada are not connected to the electrical grid. Most rely on aging generator systems that run on diesel shipped in at exorbitant economic and environmental cost. A lack of reliable energy causes blackouts, harmful power surges and acts as a tether limiting economic growth and desperately needed infrastructure development. Many “on-grid” aboriginal communities also face mounting energy challenges. What solutions are available? What role does energy poverty play in the issues facing these communities?
- How energy poverty devastates Pikangikum First Nation
- The real effect of unreliable electric power on quality of life
- Power Struggle: Discourse Media collaborated with nine international journalists to investigate how energy poverty affects people around the world.
Ending energy poverty
Because billions of people have little or no access to electricity, the United Nations has declared that one of its sustainable development goals is to provide reliable and modern energy to all by 2030. Is this possible? How would it transform the lives and communities of those who lack reliable access to energy? Can global carbon-dioxide emissions targets be balanced with the need for mass electrification? And is a clean energy breakthrough required to meet this goal?
An energy miracle
Entrepreneur Bill Gates predicts researchers will “discover a clean energy breakthrough that will save our planet and power our world” within the next 15 years. What is the current state and future of clean energy technology? Are renewables such as solar and wind poised to replace carbon-intensive energy sources? Do we require a game-changing energy innovation to avert climate catastrophe, or simply the political will to use the green energy technology that already exists?
Read more: Does the planet need an ‘energy miracle’?
In addition to the three Agenda programs, five events before and during the summit will be streamed live on TVO.org:
- Friday, April 22, 2 p.m.: Opening benchmarking panel featuring Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy executive director Jatin Nathwani, EarthSpark International executive director Rachel McManus, and Theo Blackbird-John, a facilitator at TREC Education and community activist from Walpole Island First Nation. The panel will be moderated by author and journalist Michael Brooks.
- Friday, April 22, 3:15 p.m.: Keynote address by Daniel Kammen, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.
- Friday, April 22, 7 p.m.: Keynote address, "How I harnessed the wind: Creating currents of electricity and hope," by William Kamkwamba, author of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.
- Saturday, April 23, 4 p.m.: Keynote address by Soren Hermansen, director of the Energy Academy in Denmark.
- Wednesday, April 27, 2 p.m.: The closing plenary at which the conference's conclusions will be discussed.
Finding a source of sustainable energy for all is one of the world's most pressing challenges. Visit TVO.org and watch The Agenda for a front-row seat at this important conversation.
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