Off-grid energy policy: an analysis and new priorities

Aleid C. Groenewoudt, H. Romijn, Floor Alkemade

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Progress in Sustainable Development Goal 7 is often framed as a driver of inclusive, just energy transitions and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Yet, equitable transitions entail more than basic access to clean and affordable energy services; they depend critically on pluralistic, democratic, inclusive, and sustainable outcomes and impacts. Only recently has the energy and sustainability transitions literature become more critical of the sometimes-unsustainable nature of ‘sustainability’ transitions. While unsustainable trends clearly emerge
frequently, it is generally unknown who or what drives them. This study considers what role policy and policymakers play in shaping sub-Saharan Africa’s energy transition. More specifically, it analyzes the implications of off-grid solar policy i.e., actions, plans, and funding priorities of global-level energy and development organizations, investors, and governments,
aimed at promoting the uptake of off-grid solar energy products. The study questions whether or not their efforts are actually driving the prioritized inclusive, just transition. Starting point is the African solar PV market—its realities and imminent sustainability challenges, capturing them in a dichotomy-based typology of solar innovation trajectories. As a guiding lens, we adopt the New Sussex Manifesto ‘3D agenda’ (diversity, direction, distribution). This study demonstrates that future energy planning must embrace diversity and the thousands of local solar entrepreneurs to carve out a more equitable energy transition-pathway in sub-Saharan Africa.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExploring the (un)sustainable nature of off-grid solar energy markets in Africa
Place of PublicationEindhoven
PublisherEindhoven University of Technology
ISBN (Print)978-90-386-5553-6
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sept 2022


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