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In CNN's April 25, 2022 Hear bold new idea to bring clean energy to billions journalist Fareed Zakaria interviews Dr. Rajiv Shah, the President of The Rockefeller Foundation. Here is a bit of the conversation after the 2 minute mark:

Zakaria: What is the technology at the core of your bet, what is it that makes you think you can provide that much energy, that much power, that much electricity to those many people?

Shah: Well the answer to that question is really renewable energy systems. We've seen over the last decade as Rockefeller has been pioneering this work to reach lower income communities with say solar mini-grids, we've seen the cost of power go down significantly. Photovoltaics have gone down 90 percent, energy storage is down more than 80 percent, we're about to make a huge leap into lithium ion phosphate battery storage for stationary energy grids and small, mini- and micro-grids.

It's now cheaper to provide power this way than it is through either dirty diesel generators or coal connected to grids that try to reach into these communities and do so poorly. So...

Zakaria: (interrupting) Why is the market not doing it already? Why do we need the Rockefeller Foundation?

Shah: Well most government utilities look at providing power to rural communities in particular as just a traditional loss-maker. To them, you build a big coal plant near a city connected to a grid, the extra cost of connecting grid connections out to rural communities, to villages, to small towns and cities in those settings is expensive, and then the power that they deliver on it is erratic, and their systems are not very good for doing that.

These new systems are loaded with technology. In addition to photovoltaics and battery storage, they also use remote, artificial intelligence-based energy management systems. We have smart meters that allow a very poor household to pay for only what they consume and do so via their phone and do it very efficiently so that these systems are economically productive.

And frankly Fareed because these work, we've partnered with Tata Power1 which is now rolling out ten thousand of these systems in India. **We'll get the cost down to under 15 cents per kilowatt-hour at which point it beats every alternative source of energy, and we'll help 25 million people not just move out of poverty, but do it on a green development path that safe for our planet and for their local communities.

  • 1https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tata_Power

Question: What technical details and projections does The Rockefeller Foundation provide to justify a projected 15 cents/kWh for rural solar mini- and micro-grid solutions at scale?

Of course answers based on a technical analysis and comparative systems are also welcome, but this is primarily a resource request question; presumably at this point with the first thousand systems being built with partners there will be enough information available for them to internally justify 15 cents/kWh, but I'm interested in how much has been shared.


Screenshots from the video; images supplied by The Rockefeller Foundation (for reference):

screenshot from CNN's "Hear bold new idea to bring clean energy to billions" https://youtu.be/_atY2UtHX3k (image supplied by The Rockefeller Foundation) screenshot from CNN's "Hear bold new idea to bring clean energy to billions" https://youtu.be/_atY2UtHX3k (image supplied by The Rockefeller Foundation)

screenshot from CNN's "Hear bold new idea to bring clean energy to billions" https://youtu.be/_atY2UtHX3k (image supplied by The Rockefeller Foundation) screenshot from CNN's "Hear bold new idea to bring clean energy to billions" https://youtu.be/_atY2UtHX3k (image supplied by The Rockefeller Foundation)

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  • I didn't find a resource-request or reference-request tag, nor one for artificial-intelligence or rural-solutions, so I've tagged the best I could. Suggestions welcomed!
    – uhoh
    Apr 25 at 2:38
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    Note: this only works in areas without real winter. Areas such as California. In Europe for example, only the southernmost parts such as south Italy, south Spain and Greece have enough solar power every day regardless of the seasons. In North Germany or Finland for example, solar power is so heavily seasonal that you would need seasonal energy storage. That's only feasible using hydrogen or pumped hydropower, both of which are large-scale solutions. The only other alternative renewable power production that doesn't suffer from seasons, wind power, is also large-scale.
    – juhist
    Apr 25 at 16:29
  • @juhist yes that seems correct. Northern Africa and India do look like good candidates in this map but the Indonesian archipelago and northern South America might be more challenged by extended periods of cloud cover.
    – uhoh
    Apr 25 at 20:37

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