Ambika Opal And Jatin Nathwani
Access to energy is a powerful catalyst of sustainable development. Energy access has large impacts on 13 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, ranging from alleviating poverty through the creation of micro-enterprises, to improving health by limiting indoor air pollution created by traditional cooking fuels, to strong climate action by creating decarbonized energy systems. Approximately a third of humanity (2.5 billion) does not have access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable sources of energy and a billion of this population has no access to electricity. In order to meet this basic need at the core of human sustainable development, innovative solutions that address the technical, political, and economic challenges of energy access must be carefully developed and implemented.
It is with this understanding that in 2015, the Affordable Energy for Humanity (AE4H) global change initiative was created by Dr. Jatin Nathwani and Dr. Joachim Knebel from the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE) and the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT) respectively. The goal of AE4H is to build a committed network of energy access researchers and practitioners from around the world to develop innovation solutions to energy poverty. From June 19-21 2019, 52 members of the AE4H consortium representing 18 countries attended the 2019 AE4H Innovation Lab in Waterloo, Canada, to meet and discuss solutions to energy access. This Innovation Lab was a forum for true innovation – instead of being passive listeners, participants were challenged to actively contribute to new ideas to scale and improve the provision of global energy access. The purpose of the Innovation Lab was to leverage the expertise of the dynamic and diverse experts in the room to create tangible energy access solutions.
Through the Innovation Lab, participants first went through a series of brainstorming exercises to ascertain the most pressing energy access challenges of the day. They then self-arranged into diverse groups and developed the basis for a solution to one of the brainstormed challenges. These solutions were then developed further for several months after the end of the Innovation Lab, into a series of Innovation Briefs that outline the structure and merit of the proposed solutions.
This document is a compilation of the Innovation Briefs developed through the 2019 AE4H Innovation Lab. The Briefs outline current problems and solutions regarding energy access, and represent the strong global collaboration and commitment from AE4H members to ensure affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy for all.