Energy Access & Distributed Energy

A view of lights from space at night, centered on Africa
A view of lights from space at night, centered on Africa

Energy Access and Distributed Energy

About 1.1 billion people in the world, largely in developing Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, do not have access to electricity, and the majority live in rural areas. ETA international researchers have conducted studies on renewable energy based off- and mini-grids, and distributed energy solutions that offer a significant opportunity to increase access to reliable energy services.

ETA international researchers also work closely and collaboratively with the University of California at Berkeley (UCB), the Schatz Energy Research Center at Humboldt State University (HSU), and the Prayas Energy Group (PEG) to provide cutting-edge research for energy access and distributed energy system.

Below are links to various websites that showcase these capabilities:

Projects
A shop owner in India looks at solar panels powering his business
Super-Efficient Off-Grid Appliances

Super-efficient appliances can reduce the total cost of providing off-grid electricity services by as much as 50%.​ Emerging technologies — ranging from small solar portable lanterns and pico-lighting systems to larger standalone energy systems and mini-grids — provide off-grid households and businesses with access to clean, reliable energy, displacing pre-modern fuels and delivering numerous health, environmental, and socioeconomic benefits. The markets for these products, however, are nascent and need to be brought to scale. The research aims to provide technical support to global and regional energy-access initiatives to catalyze markets for super-efficient off-grid energy products and services.

Read more about how off-grid, rural residents around the world can power their homes using small solar panels thanks to super-efficient home appliances

 

Shenzhen city landscape
Distributed Energy Solutions

Distributed Energy Research (DER) systems and microgrids (or mini-grids) are an ideal way to solve issues in district or buildings that don’t have access to central-grid power by integrating local clean energy generation and providing multiple energy services (electricity, heating and cooling) to end-use customers. Berkeley Lab has provided technical support to develop distributed energy microgrid in emerging economies, including software tools to quantify characteristics required for design and operation of microgrid systems in island and city scenarios. Berkeley Lab developed the Distributed Energy Resources Customer Adoption Model (DER-CAM) and DEEP to work with researchers and engineers on distributed energy research system design. Berkeley Lab also assisted China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) on its 12th Five Year Plan in the microgrid system policy development and technical system definition, and continues to work with partners to implement microgrid demonstration projects of China’s 13th Five Year Plan. Berkeley Lab is the chair institute of the International Microgrid Symposium, an international conference held every year since 2005.

Read more about regional analysis of U.S. and Chinese buildings’ potential for adopting Distributed Energy Resources (DER).

 

Map of Uganda created with a mesh of thin bright blue lines and glowing dots, isolated on a dark blue background. Conceptual illustration of energy networks
Policy Framework

Berkeley Lab conducts research to 1) facilitate the development of a policy framework for affordable and sustainable energy access through renewable-based mini-grids and energy efficiency, 2) provide guidance on the technical, safety and policy issues associated with interconnecting mini-grids with the central grid, and 3) promote demand-side management through smart grid load management technologies and super-efficient appliances for newly connected customers.

In Uganda, Berkeley Lab worked with policy makers to develop a policy roadmap to increase energy access through energy efficiency. By integrating energy efficiency into projects focused on expanding the electricity grid, energy efficiency optimizes the power supplied and increase the number of customers that can be served reliably at minimum cost, therefore increasing capacity utilization.

Read more about Berkeley Lab international researchers' work in Uganda

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Granada Living Lab

The Granada Living Lab is creating a technology demonstrator on top of a real energy grid infrastructure, open to the community of academics and innovators. The Grid Planning and Economics team is a key partner in this international effort led by collaborator Turning Tables, providing strategic guidance and developing the power system and market models that support the Living Lab platform.

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