Blockchain technology to help solve energy poverty

1.2 billion people have no access to electricity, yet, in emergent nations renewable energy projects are rare, partly because the funding requirements of the electricity sector in these regions exceeds their already constrained public budgets. The Blockchain SPV team aims to mobilise finance for renewable power projects, such as solar or wind farms, from anyone globally.
14th October 2021
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1.2 billion people have no access to electricity

Electricity access is thought of as a basic necessity in most parts of the world, so it may come as a surprise to learn that about 1.2 billion people (18% of the world’s population), mostly from developing countries, have no access to electricity. Lack of electricity access, termed energy poverty, negatively affects the economic, social, and human development in these countries. As energy is a driver of economic growth; therefore, energy poverty single-handedly impedes these regions’ ability to ever meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 13, 15, and 17.

Emergent nations, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa, are ideally suited to cheap, clean, and sustainable energy projects, owing to their plentiful sun, wind, and hydro resources. Yet, renewable energy projects are rare, partly because the funding requirements of the dysfunctional electricity sector in these regions exceed their already constrained public budgets. According to the African development bank, Africa alone requires up to €62bn of annual financing until 2030 to increase sustainable generation capacity, mostly from renewable sources. New, sustainable, and innovative financing options are required for these types of investment targets to be achieved.

Anyone with a euro and an internet connection could help finance a renewable electricity project

The Blockchain SPV team of our Competition Best Idea 2021 is using blockchain technology to build a sustainable and democratised finance model to help solve energy poverty. While traditional finance infrastructure is monopolistic, expensive, and slow, this project’s novel decentralised finance instrument, streamlines the financial processes of a traditional legal entity for ownership, project funding, revenue collection, and revenue sharing.

The model allows people from anywhere in the world with a dollar, euro, or any other fiat currency and an internet connection to participate in financing a renewable electricity project such as a solar or wind farm and be guaranteed a share of the eventual revenues.

The project will be trialed through a pilot in a community in sub-Saharan Africa. The implementation of the pilot will commence from early-stage development to stakeholder engagement, signing of power purchase agreement, development, testing, initial coin offering for project construction, and lastly commercial operations and revenue collection and sharing.

About the team

The student leader of the project is Olakunle Alao, a Ph.D. student from University College Dublin, and also includes members from Aalborg University and Université Paris-Saclay.

As the project knits concepts from different disciplines, the team is horizontally (inter- and trans-disciplinary) and vertically integrated. The team consists of diverse academic and professional backgrounds that cut across software, law, electricity and finance.

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