IEC calls on disruptive technology for universal energy access

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

Energy, and especially electricity, is the golden thread that impacts the majority of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and furthermore, the development of every nation and economy.  The UN recognizes electricity access as a key pillar for economic development because it helps to reduce poverty and hunger, improves educational opportunities and enables higher quality healthcare.

Solar PV panel
Low voltage direct current (LVDC), fundamentally accelerates energy access, and has the potential to transform lives, livelihoods and leisure, by helping millions of people to use electrical energy

Electricity access – an agent of economic growth

However worldwide 1,2 billion people don’t have any access to electricity and 2,7 billion people have very limited access. In Africa, more than 600 million people, that is two out of three Africans, lack access to electricity. 

The work of the IEC has a direct impact on 12 of the 17 SDGs – it provides the technical foundation for the whole energy chain and all equipment that is driven by electricity.  Against this backdrop, the IEC is joining forces with the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) to host the inaugural LVDC Conference on Sustainable Electricity Access. Standardization work for LVDC is perhaps one of the biggest societal impact initiatives undertaken by the IEC to date. It requires a concerted effort by all stakeholders. 

Low voltage direct current (LVDC), a disruptive technology that fundamentally changes and accelerates energy access, has the potential to transform lives, livelihoods and leisure by helping millions of people gain access to electricity.  The IEC is driving the development of LVDC, making this technology safe and broadly accessible. 

Thought leadership platform

The LVDC Conference on Sustainable Electricity Access will take place in Nairobi, Kenya, on 22 and 23 May 2017. Holding this conference in Africa will provide a real understanding of electricity access needs to IEC experts and stakeholders. The IEC invites participation from all those concerned with the Sustainable Developments Goals, especially Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. 

The conference 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. It will be a thought leadership platform to effectively engage with policymakers and regulators. The LVDC Conference on Sustainable Electricity Access will also help gain the technological and economic information needed to evolve LVDC standards and drive the technology’s commercialization. 

The recent evolution of LVDC

Over the last 20 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. 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. 

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. 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. 

Get engaged!

Vimal Mahendru, Chair of the IEC Systems Committee on LVDC (SyC 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.

“This conference is your opportunity to input your local needs and requirements, to hear about economic opportunities 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.” 

As well as attending the LVDC Conference on Sustainable Electricity Access, you are invited to track low voltage direct current developments and engage on the topic of LVDC and its standardization. Join the LVDC discussion on LinkedIn here. For further reading, please see the article DC takes the driving seat in e-tech of June 2015, and also visit the SEG 4 and SyC LVDC web pages.