Skip to main content
To KTH's start page To KTH's start page

Energy Access and Development

How can we meet the energy needs of the poorest at a price they can afford? How can we achieve SDG7?

Photo: NASA

Access to modern energy is a pre-requisite for social and economic development. Therefore, the United Nations has declared this as one of the Sustainable Development Goals; SDG7 - Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. As of 2020 however, 860 million people globally remain without electricity, and 2.4 billion people without access to clean cooking fuels. Access to electricity can be used in the household to power lights, charge phones, provide entertainment and comfort. In health facilities it can power fridges to store vaccines, enable longer opening hours and power important machines. In schools it provides access to computers, in agriculture it can be used for modern irrigation, etc. Similarly, access to clean cooking fuels can reduce the burden of collecting fuel wood, and reduce indoor air pollution, saving millions of lives annually and reducing deforestation.

Main research objectives

While access to modern energy for all is widely recognized as a key factor in any country's development, according to current trends the world will fall short of meeting SDG 7. The IEA projects that 500-600 million people globally would remain without access to electricity and 2.1 billion without access to clean cooking at the current rate of progress. In order to increase the rate of progress, we take a system perspective on improved energy access. We aim to investigate which combination of technologies can be used to provide energy access at the lowest cost under different scenarios, often for an entire country or region.

Methods used

We develop and apply open-source tools and models to evaluate which technologies can provide energy access at the lowest cost and/or highest benefit. Examples are the Open Source Spatial Electrification Tool (OnSSET), a GIS-based tool that examines where grid-extension, mini-grids or stand-alone solar PV technologies can provide electricity at the lowest cost, and the open source spatial clean cooking access tool (OnStove) for identifying in each location which cooking fuel and stove combination can provide the highest benefit in each location. In order to do this, we work with international organizations such as the World Bank, United Nations, IEA as well as government organizations in industrializing countries to develop and apply the tools. We also focus on capacity building, to ensure the tools and methods are adopted by the countries where the needs are the largest.


Assessment of the potential for battery storage to provide affordable electricity access through solar PV mini-grids in West Africa

In this project, KTH worked with IRENA to assess the potential value of storage (VoS) for increased access to electricity through PV-based mini-grids in four countries in West Africa; Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal. The Open Source Spatial Electrification Tool (OnSSET) was coupled with a hybrid mini-grid optimization tool to evaluate the least-cost technology (grid/mini-grid/stand-alone) to supply electricity to each settlement in the four countries under different scenarios, and then evaluate the VoS in the settlements where mini-grids were found to provide electricity at the lowest cost.

Capacity building on geospatial electrification analysis for industrializing countries

KTH has been leading trainings on GIS and geospatial electrification modelling at the Summer Schools on Modelling Tools for Sustainable Development and the Energy Modelling Platforms for Africa. Participants include analysts from both the governmental sector, national utilities and academics in industrializing countries, as well as academics from Europe and North America. The participants have been introduced to geospatial electrification modelling in general, and practiced their skills with hands-on training on the Open Source Spatial Electrification Tool (OnSSET).

Capturing emissions in least-cost electrification planning

The World Bank/ESMAPs Global Electrification Platform (GEP) is an online, interactive platform allowing users to examine scenarios towards universal access to electricity by 2030 for 58 countries worldwide. In this project, KTH worked to improve the GEP-OnSSET model on the GEP, to also account for greenhouse gas emissions related to increased access to electricity. Additionally, the effect of a carbon tax on the costs related to increased electricity access was added as an additional lever on the platform.

Geospatial Analysis and Electrification Investment Scenario Preparation for Yemen

Since the start of the civil war in Yemen, many important infrastructures systems have been damaged. Progress towards universal access to electricity in the country has been hampered. In this project, KTH works to deliver a preliminary assessment of electrification options in Yemen to reach universal access to electricity (in accordance with Sustainable Development Goal 7).

Least-cost electrification Pathways for Benin

KTH Royal Institute of Technology partnered with SNV to examine electrification pathways for Benin. The project examines the least-cost technology options to achieve universal electrification in Benin by 2030 under a range of scenarios. It also included a workshop held in Calavi in October 2018. During the workshop 15 people from the public and private energy sector as well as universities were trained on electrification modelling using OnSSET. Further, discussions on data and a meeting with energy sector partners in Benin was held.

Least-cost electrification Pathways for Madagascar

The Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden was invited to participate in the Least-Cost Electricity Access Project for Madagascar together with the World Bank and other local and international partners. In the project, the OnSSET tool was used and customized to examine affordable electrification pathways for Madagascar.

Mwinda Project: Data-driven solutions for people-centered electrification in the DRC

KTH, Resource Matters, University of Cape Town and Reiner Lemoine Institut partnered to develop a least-cost electrification platform for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as part of Resource Matters ongoing commitments in the country. KTH contributes with expertise on, and development of, the Open Source Spatial Electrification Tool (OnSSET), used to examine the least-cost technologies for increased access to electricity in the country.

OPM Ethiopia project “Energy system development pathways in Ethiopia”

The project “Energy system development pathways for Ethiopia” is being led by the University College of London (UCL) along with the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), the Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI) and Addis Ababa Institute of Technology (AAIT). The project is part of the Applied Research Programme on Energy for Economic Growth (EEG), led by Oxford Policy Management.

OpeN Source Spatial Electrification Toolkit (ONSSET)

Preparation of an Indicative Least Cost Geospatial Electrification Plan To Achieve Universal Access In Somalia

KTH, Kartoza and Recon Energy partnered to develop an indicative least-cost geospatial electrification plan to achieve universal access in Somalia. As part of the project, data was collected from local stakeholders, an open-source electrification model based on the OnSSET tool was developed, and an online visualization platform and Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) for geospatial energy-related data were set up. Furthermore, several workshops were held to collect stakeholder inputs, disseminate results and train stakeholder on the model and platform.

Preparation of an Indicative Least Cost Geospatial Electrification Plan to Achieve Universal Access in Benin

The project partners provided an ensemble team with expertise in open-source geospatial application development and training, electrification planning, and in-situ knowledge of the electrification industry in Benin. The result of the collaboration between the project partners, ESMAP and stakeholders and electrification practitioners in Benin is a least-cost electrification model for Benin, an SDI (Spatial Data Infrastructure) and an electrification modelling platform for visualizing the model results. This platform aims to facilitate the critical work taking place to support the meeting of the Sustainable Development Goal 7 which seeks to ensure that access to electricity is ubiquitous.

The Clean Cooking Explorer platform for Nepal

Energy for cooking is considered essential in achieving modern energy access. Despite this, almost 2.4 billion people still lack access to clean cooking, most of them living in rural areas of industrializing countries in sub-Saharan Africa, developing Asia and parts of central- and south-America. In order to mitigate the shortcomings of clean cooking solutions, traditional energy sources tend to be used which can be harmful for the people using them. This project aims at creating a spatial platform for clean cooking for Nepal in order to leverage geospatial data to represent the different resources and characteristics of the region, and support targeted development of clean cooking solutions.

The Global Electrification Platform

The Global Electrification Platform (GEP) is an open access, interactive, online platform that allows for overview of electrification investment scenarios for a selection of countries (58 available as of 2021).

World Energy Outlook 2019

The International Energy Agency launched two publications including geospatial electrification analysis in 2019; the World Energy Outlook and the Africa Energy Outlook. These present comprehensive energy outlooks on both a regional and global level. KTH researchers provided a geospatial electrification analysis for the reports using OnSSET. The analysis includes two scenarios on a regional level for all of sub-Saharan Africa, and also provide a more detailed look on 11 countries; Angola, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania.