The world yesterday signed up for the new Sustainable Development Goals (replacing the Millennium Development Goals that were until 2015). In the new SDGs energy is now highlighted.
Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
I am struck by the use of the various terms.
7.1 By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services
7.2 By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix
7.3 By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency
7.a By 2030, enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced and cleaner fossil-fuel technology, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology
7.b By 2030, expand infrastructure and upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all in developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States, and land-locked developing countries, in accordance with their respective programmes of support
‘modern energy’ – I never know how much to repeat myself within this blog – I don’t want to bore you. However if you got this far, you must know that in Africa, even where electricity is available, households still don’t use it for cooking. Why not? In many countries it make sense financially, but it doesn’t make sense due to unstable and unreliable supplies. It is ‘affordable’ especially when compared to the rising urban charcoal prices, and in many countries it makes more sense than LPG. However it is not ‘reliable’.
The SDG calls for ‘reliable’. In other places in the blog I argue that the presence of a sizable battery within the household (which is increasingly ‘affordable’) can make the household access ‘reliable’. In other places I have drawn attention to Tesla Powerwall, and in the ACE paper (Draft available) I show how reliability by energy storage is more cost effective than buying a diesel or petrol generator.
‘Sustainable’ – energy storage is vital for the effective use of renewable energy technologies. One thinks of renewables as ‘sustainable’ – however while they are cleaner, lower emission, technologies, they only become ‘sustainable’ if their full costings can be recovered, they can be relaced at the end of their life. I am sure the SDGs will create millions of words on the internet and in the air, discussing the meaning of sustainable. There are of course many forms and shapes for sustainability, and use of a renewable source is only one type of sustainability. Of course it contrasts with the finite resource of fossil fuels, but integral ‘sustainability’ only comes about when the financial aspects (and social) work together as a whole.
So SDG 7 has some interesting words, and the proposition of ecook could strongly contribute to it. The focus on modern energy distinguishes ecook from traditional biomass cooking, and even improved stoves work. As I have said before, it could be a gateway to modern energy. Its cost effectiveness could be used to increase access (reliable modern energy). It could increase the share of renewables, and indeed renewables will not increase unless the whole system has more energy storage in it. Decentralised household level energy storage whether ongrid (National, Mini, Micro, Nano) or stand alone use of renewables.
‘Energy efficiency‘? Actually as ecook develops, we have already explored energy efficiency. Nottingham has shown that we could save up to 60% of the cooking process just by strategic use of insulation of pots, UIU in Bangladesh is exploring alternative cooking methods saving energy.
‘Increase research’ – yep, that’s what we have argued. NOT that ecook is possible now, but that it may be at a price tipping point by 2020, so what research needs to be done now to make it a reality? The SDG calls for enhanced research by 2030. I would hope that ecook discussions are encouraging longer term research?
‘Increase infrastructure and upgrade technology‘. We are exploring a new shape and form of technology, using modern energy with resource poor households. It is only possible if we develop (upgrade) technology and combinations of existing technology.
So SDG 7? Yep, ecook ticks the box and should contribute – lets move forward with the research and go to scale in 2020.