Small, affordable solar lanterns can provide basic light and phone charging to people in off-grid areas. However, they can’t provide enough power for other services that many people want – like refrigerators, power tools and TVs. Larger solar home systems and micro-grids can offer this level of electricity service but remain out of reach for many.

How can people in off-grid areas get access to these higher levels of energy service? And how can these off-grid systems integrate effectively with the grid expansions that we are expecting to see?

Broadcaster and journalist Jenni Murray chairing the 2015 Ashden International Conference

Panel One

How can people climb the energy ladder, and faster?

In off-grid regions, what evidence is there that people are moving up the electricity ladder? What role do efficient DC appliances, innovative financing and other sector developments have to play? Are productive uses of power the next frontier? If the demand is there, what are the barriers? How realistic is it to suggest that decentralised systems will enable people to ‘leapfrog’ being grid-connected?

Even though the grid is expanding, off-grid solutions are crucial in meeting people’s electricity needs.

Harrison Leaf, SteamaCo

Panel Two

Combining grid and off-grid electricity

How can off-grid technologies like solar home-systems and micro-grids work alongside the grid to provide sufficient reliable electricity access to everyone? What successful examples are there of governments including both grid and off-grid technologies in their electricity planning? How can the public and private sectors collaborate, and what is the potential for grid and off-grid systems to integrate and interact?

Speakers confirmed

  • Kat Harrison, Associate Director - Impact at Acumen
  • Nico Tyabji, Solar Analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance
  • Charlie Miller, Senior Policy Advisor at GOGLA and Director of National Programmes, Power For All
  • Sarah Bieber, Energy Officer - Beyond the Grid, USAID/Power Africa
  • Andrew Reicher, Business angel investor, energy access
  • Harrison Leaf, CEO SteamaCo