Having graduated from AgroParisTech and obtained a Masters degree in environmental science and policies, Juliette Darlu worked for the Agence française de développement in Ethiopia and Fondation Énergies pour le monde before joining GRET’s “Access to energy” programme in 2017. Within the NGO, Juliette designs, coordinates and monitors projects focusing on renewable energy and off-grid electrification.
What are the major development issues in terms of access to energy?
Currently, three billion people depend on biomass (fire wood and other fuels from living systems) for their basic needs: preparing food, making water drinkable and generating heat. A large portion of these people are living in poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa, including fuel poverty. In Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, women spend up to 25 % of their budget on charcoal, which sometimes comes from Mali!
One billion people do not have access to a real, reliable source of electricity. In Madagascar, where some villages still use oil lamps for lighting, 89 % of households do not have access to a network. Access to sustainable renewable energy is a core issue for development, just like health, education, economic development and employment. It also contributes to meeting ecological challenges and fighting against climate change.
What areas does GRET’s “Access to energy” programme focus on?
It focuses on three main areas: “energy biomass”, “access to electricity” and “energy and territories”. For “energy biomass”, GRET works on households’ energy security via distribution of renewable fuels and stoves. In Mauritania, it is incubating an improved stove social business and businesses producing biofuel using an invasive plant called Typha (in French).
The “access to electricity” component integrates the implementation of rural electrification programmes (mini-networks or solar platforms), facilitating public stakeholder coalitions and strengthening the role of local authorities. For example, in Madagascar, two mini-hydroelectric networks are currently under construction, with a view to supplying 40,000 people (in French).
The last area, “energy and territories”, is growing rapidly. Energy is an essential vector used by GRET to facilitate local economic development. Our actions can be implemented at communal or water catchment level to support energy transitions. For example, we are providing support to a commune in Burkina Faso to plan its renewable energy development strategy (in French).
What innovative approaches are being developed by GRET for access to energy?
We are working to implement organisational solutions facilitating decision-making by citizens, users and consumers, who are often excluded in service management plans, largely dominated by public-private partnerships.
By using design thinking methods, users and local partners can participate in the design of products they will make, sell or use. This is the case with Fayda improved stoves in Mauritania (in French), and Typha biofuel in Senegal. We also place strong emphasis on North-South technology transfer in technical innovations. For example, we are working with the Guinard Energies company for the in situ test of a low-capacity hydrokinetic turbine in Madagascar, a solution that can partially respond to the challenges of rural electrification.
More information on the TyCCAO project (in French)
More information on the Typha project
More information on the Rhyviere II project (in French)
More information on the Fayda improved stove project (in French)