November 22, 2021

Perceived unknowns about gridless water, sanitation and energy services

This report provides insights about the barriers that hold back the wider use and uptake of gridless technological innovations with the potential to expand access to energy, water and sanitation worldwide.

Though rapid technological change has led to many innovations of gridless technologies, the uptake of these innovations has not kept pace. To better understand what is holding things back, SEI gathered stakeholders in these sectors from around the world to examine the situation.

This report presents the findings from those sessions. It shows that there is a widespread lack of understanding of the technologies’ potential benefits, challenges and potential trade-offs.

Stakeholder say that gridless technologies have also been hampered by regulatory gaps and a lack of information on their compatibility with existing systems.

The authors argue that, to expand the uptake of gridless solutions, more attention must be paid to the needs and preferences of potential users, the technological appropriateness of certain options in specific contexts, and issues of social equity and distributional justice.

Better insights are needed about the scalability of certain options and the key factors that underpin successful technological transfer. Better financial know-how is also needed to help secure investments in innovation and start-ups, and to create commercially viable business models.

Village house with solar panel in Uganda. Image: Philippe Lissac / Getty