How can we provide affordable, reliable and sustainable energy all?

“The Benefits of Energy are innumerable,” said Sarah Best, Senior Researcher at the International Institute for Energy and Development.  “Energy is vital for lighting, cooking, transport, refrigeration, irrigation and communications, but also for employment, education, wellbeing and aspirations. 

“So it’s really important that we understand what energy access is; that it’s not just about the supply of technology or megawatts. It’s what leads to better lives. If we get the goal right of what energy access is supposed to do, then we’ll find the right solutions.”

Anna Halpern-Lande, Senior Venture Principle in Shell Technology Ventures, suggested that there is no one single way to improve access to energy.  “Producing and providing more energy does not automatically result in access to it.  Even promising solutions can be hard to scale up enough to make a real difference.  It requires a combination of innovation, entrepreneurship, social investment, collaboration and commercial development.”  

Dr Simon Bransfield -Garth , CEO of Azuri Technologies Ltd, a leader in PayGO solar systems, talked about energy as enabler, particularly to the knowledge economy via mobile phone technology.  “In our view, it is the knowledge economy which is going to enable continents like Africa to be able to develop much more rapidly than other societies have been able to develop,” he added.

Gabrielle Walker, Chief Scientist of Xynteo, ended on an optimistic note by highlighting the plummeting costs of renewables and their role in bringing energy to places outside urban centres and away from the grid. “I find that a very positive thing; that we’re now finding our imperative to bring wellbeing to lift people out of poverty goes hand-in-hand with our imperative to deal with climate change.” 

Shell has supported the 21st Century Challenges Lecture Series since 2000. The programme brings together expert opinion on environmental, social and economic challenges.

Shell plays an active role in improving communities’ access to energy, particularly in regions where we work.

Shell Technology Ventures (STV) invests in companies across the energy sector, including clean and green technology, to speed up the development and deployment of technologies complementing our business.