IEC - International Electrotechnical Commission

05/16/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 05/16/2024 02:48

Reviving solar graveyards discussed in latest IEC webinar

International funders have committed to electrifying 150,000 healthcare facilities in rural Africa and India over the next three years, yet these solar power plants risk becoming obsolete and creating solar graveyards, according to industry expert Ray Gorman at the recent IEC Academy webinar on IEC and the Global Impact Fund.

Gorman, of IEC Global Impact Fund (IEC GIF) implementing partner Differ Community Power (DCP), said budget cycles typically incentivize CapEx over OpEx investments, meaning that most solar PV systems installed don't receive end-of-life management or repair, with brand new systems often installed next to them instead.

"For most of these systems, the batteries are the only irrecoverable component, while most of the other key components have an expected lifetime of more than ten years. The installation of second-life batteries could be a highly cost-effective way to rehabilitate them. This is why the IEC Global Impact Fund is so important, as its first project, which is about turning battery e-waste into e-resources in Africa aims to test ways to rehabilitate these dead systems and bring them back to life." International standards and conformance are central to this.

Gorman was one of a number of panelists in the webinar, discussing how the IEC GIF demonstrates, as well as informs way to increase the significant impact of international standards and conformity assessment in addressing sustainable development as enshrined in the UN SDGs.

DCP, was selected to determine the feasibility of using second life lithium batteries to rehabilitate solar PV installations at critical locations such as schools, health centres and hospitals in Kenya and is working closely with the IEC National Committee (NC) in Kenya to ensure it maintains local relevance while being institutionally engaged at the national level.

Secretary of the IEC Kenyan NC Zacheus Ireri Mwatha said affordable electricity is essential to the economic development of any country, but it needs to be reliable.

"75% of households in Kenya have access to electricity, but there are still outages, affecting essential services such as hospitals and schools. What's more, 87% of electricity in Kenya comes from renewable sources and some systems are coming to the end of their first life. So we hope that the knowledge gained from this project can be used to rehabilitate other plants in areas that the pilot won't reach."

The IEC GIF also helps to address climate issues through decarbonization. Panelist Elena Crete, Head of the Climate & Energy Programme at the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) highlighted this as she detailed the Deep Decarbonization Pathway Project involving 16 of the biggest emitting countries.

"What we found was that electrification is the cheapest and fastest option to decarbonize the most carbon emitting energy systems within those countries. So this question of expanding electricity and using electro technological solutions is incredibly important, specifically in the face of climate change and in our pursuit of the Paris Agreement goals."

Moderating the session, IEC GIF Senior Advisor and Officer Matthew Doherty emphasized the importance of partnerships to ensure the success of the initiative, in the first project as well as future ones.

Financing partners are a key part of this, he said, and the Fund signed its first funding agreement with the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS), earlier this year.

KATS liaison officer to the IEC GIF, Dr Jinseok Bae, was also on the panel, along with Kory Eguino, Executive Secretary of the Pan American Standards Commission (COPANT) and Dr Hao Hu, Deputy Director General of the International Standards Department at the Chinese Society for Electrical Engineering.

Dr Hu gave an update on the upcoming IEC Global Impact Fund Forum to be held in Nanjing, China on 24 June 2024.

Learn more about the IEC Global Impact Fund.

Watch the replay of the webinar.

Learn more about IEC Academy webinars and the IEC and the SDGs series.