From gloom to bloom

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Imagine a hospital full of high-end lifesaving equipment; a tech-savvy school with smart classrooms and then imagine all this without electricity. Now imagine a primary health centre or a primary school in the middle of a rural village, with continuous power supply. Which of the two do you think would make a better contribution to social development and wellbeing? Visualizing these two conditions makes the crucial role played by electricity in molding the future of society and nation quite apparent.

IRENA in its Energy progress report 2023 has highlighted that till 2021, 675 million people were still without access to electricity across the globe. This pertains to the typical energy planning system that is supply driven rather than demand driven. At World Resources Institute (WRI), we are helping change this lopsided energy access model by championing an inclusive, demand-driven approach with our tool Energy Access Explorer (EAE).

EAE is the first of its kind, online, open-source, interactive geospatial platform that leverages the power of satellite imagery in addition to local geospatial datasets to visualize energy supply and demand, equipping energy planners, investors, development practitioners and clean energy entrepreneurs with the information they need to close the electricity access gap. Off-grid developers, for example, can see the location of potential customers and where demand for electricity may be high, while development finance institutions can pinpoint regions where electrification funding would achieve the highest impact.

EAE has helped health and education departments to articulate their power needs in the 15 geographies spread across Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Using EAE data-driven, integrated, and inclusive approach, plans are developed in geographies where significant portion of the population is living under the poverty line and lacking access to reliable energy services. 

It aims to provide geospatial data and technology and inform pathways to create a future where all people and institutions have access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy for achieving socio-economic development. It is a multi-criteria analysis tool which allows users to do custom on-the fly analysis at 1 square km. The multi criteria analysis uses current, location-specific resource availability and infrastructure data to represent energy supply to enable more comprehensive energy planning. The platform can also be used to identify the energy demand areas and link with the different renewable energy sources for decarbonization efforts.

Whether you're a software developer, or a user without programming background, you will find that this platform holds the potential to build a more inclusive and equitable society with reliable access to energy.

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