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Efficiency for Access publishes open letter on how affordable, high-performing and inclusive appliances will help address the climate emergency

In the lead up to COP26, Efficiency for Access is highlighting how affordable, high-performing and inclusive solar-powered appliances and technologies can help address the climate emergency and achieve universal energy access.

If the international community is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the levels set out in the Paris Agreement to 2 degrees or at least 1.5 degrees, we need to take decisive action. We are calling on likeminded people and organisations to support our work in one of the following ways:

1) Aid agencies and foundations with an interest in funding work in the off-grid appliance sector can join the Coalition.

2) Implementing partners such as non-government organisations and consulting firms working in off-grid appliances and energy access can become Programme Partners.

3) All other individuals or organisations can support our work by signing up to our newsletter and following us on Twitter and LinkedIn. We also encourage you to post one of our suggested, pre-written posts for LinkedIn or Twitter to show your support for our work, or post one of your own using the #Appliances4OurPlanet hashtag.

Our donor members and Programme Partners are addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation in the following ways:

  • Efficiency for Access donor member, Acumen, has convened 16 governments, foundations and investors to provide essential financial support to energy access companies in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia through the Energy Access Relief Fund.

  • Efficiency for Access donor members, the IKEA Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation, set up a historic US$1 billion initiative that aims to reduce 1 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions and empower 1 billion people with distributed renewable energy.

  • Efficiency for Access donor members, EnDev and the IKEA Foundation, launched an €8 million grant to empower the agricultural sector by working closely with smallholder farmers, agri-businesses and solar enterprises in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.

  • Efficiency for Access donor member, the World Bank, has mobilised US$157 million to promote low carbon and inclusive cooling, from the Green Climate Fund.

  • Efficiency for Access Programme Partner, EEP Africa, has launched a cohort of 26 projects promoting productive use of energy and circular economy, with support from donor member, the Nordic Development Fund.

  • Efficiency for Access Programme Partner, GOGLA, has launched a compact to ‘Power 1 Billion Lives’ by 2030.

  • Efficiency for Access Programme Partner, Modern Energy Cooking Services, launched a 40,60 by 2030 challenge, calling for action to promote clean electric cooking services.

Background

According to the IFC, in developing countries backup generators powered by fossil fuels currently serve 20– 30 million unique sites and have an installed generation capacity equivalent to 700– 1,000 coal fired power stations. Reliance on generators has implications for climate that will likely increase in the future without efforts to reduce their use through energy efficient appliances and renewable alternatives. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the CO2 emissions from generators currently account for approximately one third of the CO2 emissions from power generation and is equivalent to about one fifth of the emissions from all automobiles.

How affordable, high-performing and inclusive appliances can further climate change mitigation and adaptation

Affordable, high-performing, and inclusive appliances powered by renewable sources can help avoid greenhouse gas emissions and improve quality of life and livelihoods for people in developing countries. In this way, they offer a low carbon pathway to sustainable development that can help protect people and the planet.

Solar-powered appliances and related technologies can also help vulnerable communities in developing countries build climate resilience and withstand non-climatic shocks. For example:

  • Solar-powered fans are a low-cost technology that helps people stay comfortable and earn an income in a world of rapidly rising temperatures.

  • Solar water pumps are a clean, modern irrigation solution that replaces diesel powered pumps for smallholder farmers.

  • Electric pressure cookers help displace the use of traditional biomass fuels, which can reduce carbon emissions and indoor air pollution.

  • Refrigerators that have been designed for off- and weak-grid settings can help extend the shelf life of fresh fruit and vegetables. This can help reduce food waste, an ongoing problem that affects food security at a global level.

Off- and weak-grid appliances contribute to broader sustainable development imperatives alongside climate impact

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has strengthened the case for efficient appliances. Televisions and computers can enable distance learning for young people whose education has been disrupted by school closures. Electrification of off-grid health facilities, combined with cold chain technologies designed for use in these settings, is essential to the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of COVID-19 across rural Africa.

Off- and weak-grid appliances also play an important role in levelling the playing field for women and girls, people with disabilities and vulnerable groups such as refugees. Access to modern energy and appropriate appliances can have a transformative impact on women’s lives.

  • Efficiency for Access’ research in India and Nepal showed that using water pumps and farm machinery enabled women to do jobs that they previously were unable to carry out.

  • Moreover, over one billion people need one or more assistive products, which are appliances and technologies that can help them to lead a healthy and productive life. Innovations such as visual and audio cues on appliance function buttons can improve the accessibility of appliances for blind or deaf people.

Existing barriers to scaling up the adoption of off- and weak-grid appliances

However, a range of barriers exist that need to be addressed to develop the markets for high-performing appliances. Products need to become more efficient and affordable, and consumers need education on the benefits in choosing a high-performing appliance. Companies also have limited capacity in distribution and after-sales service. Improved access to finance is needed, both for consumers and companies. In addition, an enabling policy and regulatory environment are needed to attract investment and accelerate growth.

What Efficiency for Access is doing to address this situation

Since COP21, Efficiency for Access has collectively invested over £200 million to support technology innovations for energy efficient appliances that are powered by distributed renewable energy systems. Our flagship initiative, the Low Energy Inclusive Appliances programme, which is funded by UK aid and the IKEA Foundation, has helped almost 5.5 million of the world’s poorest people gain access to affordable, low-carbon energy using appliances and associated technologies.

As part of our work, we are implementing proven solutions, which are ready to be taken to scale. Through the Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund and Global LEAP Awards, we are providing grants to manufacturers and distributors to support product research and business model innovation. We are testing products and developing test methods and standards to benchmark efficiency gains and recognise top-performing products, thus promoting quality. We are working with investors to unlock access to finance, and with implementing partners to provide technical assistance and capacity building to companies. We are undertaking market intelligence and research to help de-risk the sector for investors and generate insights that could further enhance its social and environmental impact.

Benefits in supporting Efficiency for Access’ work

By joining Efficiency for Access and supporting our work, you can help us take these solutions to scale. You will also be able to tap into a vibrant network of organisations who are taking important action to champion affordable and high performing appliances as an essential contributor to efforts to tackle climate change and broader developmental imperatives.

Collaboration and innovation will be crucial to addressing the climate emergency, and ensuring that global warming remains at 1.5 C. We invite you to join us to support our efforts by becoming a member of the Efficiency for Access Donor Coalition if you are an aid agency and foundation, becoming a Programme Partner if you are another organisation, signing up to our newsletter or following our social media channels.

If you are a Donor member or Programme Partner and would like your work to be included in this letter, please email sarah.hambly@est.org.uk