LVDC for sustainable electricity access needs standardization

IEC and KEBS host first global LVDC Conference

By Antoinette Price

Over 170 participants from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin and North America attended the Conference.

LVDC Conference participants First ever global LVDC Conference in Nairobi, Kenya

How to bring electricity to every home

IEC and the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) hosted the first ever low voltage direct current (LVDC) Conference for Sustainable Electricity Access, in Nairobi on May 22-23, 2017.

The aim of the Conference was to discuss how to bring adequate, clean, affordable electricity to the 1,2 billion people who go without.

Policy makers, funding agencies, project implementers, government and non-government bodies, technology research organizations, academia and field practitioners addressed the realities, challenges, and consequences of electricity access, or lack thereof. Topics included:

  • Defining electricity access with a view to developing LVDC International Standards
  • Funding electricity access programmes
  • Implementing projects, including the gap between assumptions and reality
  • Technological solutions to realize such projects

“An important outcome of the Conference is that industry leaders from electrotechnical companies across the world were really listening and now have a clearer idea of what the global community expects of the standardization community”, said Vimal Mahendru, Chair, IEC Systems Committee, LVDC and LVDC for Electricity Access (SyC LVDC), and IEC Ambassador.

Global development is a must

Many countries in the developing world are presently far from having 100% electrification and providing adequate electricity to all citizens. These countries urgently require electricity access standards. The IEC Affiliate Country Programme aims to enable these countries to get involved in the standardization process, and to adopt IEC International Standards. Fourteen Affiliate Country Members attended the Conference and their delegates also participated in subsequent IEC plenary meetings for LVDC standardization.

“The work of the LVDC standardization community will be considered done, only when there is electricity in every hut, home, village, town, district, state and country, and it should be clean, affordable, abundant and available 24 hours a day, every day of the week”, said Mahendru.

A great outcome

During the Conference wrap-up, the delegates agreed on the following nine key points:

  1. Genuine and wide demand for standardization of LVDC for purposes of electricity access
  2. Clean energy on demand, also for cooking
  3. The Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme (ESMAP) multi-tier framework (a global knowledge and technical assistance programme administered by the World Bank), is a good basis upon which to develop Standards
  4. Funding is available and viable business models are now emerging (for example, pay-as-you-go (PAYG))
  5. India has urgent needs, echoed across Africa – urgency for developing LVDC Standards for electricity access (DC off-grid microgrids, solar home systems, DC devices, quality, maintenance Standards)
  6. Conformity assessment is an important integral part of effective electricity access programmes
  7. DC devices are safe and reasonably priced; economies of scale will further lower costs
  8. Learn from lessons from the Internet and mobile phones – increase the pie – add 1,2 billion electricity users
  9. In developing economies, policy makers, regulators, funding agencies, utilities, practitioners, implementers, DC original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), users are demanding standardization 

The Conference was co-sponsored by the Kenya Electricity Generating Company Limited (KenGen), the Institute of Electrical Installation Engineers of Japan, Eaton, Legrand, Schneider and Siemens; it was supported by the African Electrotechnical Standardization Commission (AFSEC).

Find out more in the IEC brochures on LVDC and electricity access:  Electricity access - More than a promise: LVDC and LVDC the better way

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LVDC Conference Nairobi, Kenya LVDC will help bring electricity to every home
LVDC Conference participants First ever global LVDC Conference in Nairobi, Kenya
LVDC Conference - Vimal Mahendru, Charles Ongwae, Dr Joseph Njoroge From left: Vimal Mahendru, Charles Ongwae, KEBS Managing Director, and Dr Joseph Njoroge, Principal Secretary of Ministry of Energy and Petroleum