A new open-source web-based application has been launched to support the efforts of governments, investors, companies, development organizations, and others planning to bring electricity to more households and to accelerate affordable, reliable, sustainable energy for all. The open data and analytics resource called ENERGYDATA.INFO was developed by the World Bank, Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.
The Electrification Pathways tool considers a variety of open, geospatial data to determine the least-cost options for bringing electricity to areas as granular as 1 square km in size.
Government officials need to know the location of populations, the kind of electricity access they may already have and possible ways to best provide them with electricity access within short timeframes, in order to develop effective electrification strategies. In many countries, utilities providers do not have a good picture of their electricity network, and even population and other data may be hard to obtain, making this required analysis difficult and costly.
The new tool utilises the best available datasets, including those from the World Bank, on population density, distance from existing and planned transmission infrastructure, proximity to road network, night-time light, as well as energy resources availability, among others. For each 1 km square location, seven electrification technologies are compared, such as grid, renewable and hybrid mini-grids, and individual systems. Five tiers of electricity access are considered, from Tier-0 which allows use of only torch and radio, all the way through to the use of heavy or continuous appliances like air-conditioning, in Tier-5.
Based on the geographic data and the level and quality of electricity supply sought, the lowest-cost system is selected. Results are available for each 1-by-1 km settlement. Summaries including universal electrification costs are provided at the national, state and district levels.
The Electrification Pathways’ algorithm incorporates ESMAP’s (Energy Sector Management Assistance Program; a partnership between the World Bank Group and 17 partners) Multi-tier Framework, for defining, monitoring, and evaluating energy access. ESMAP also provided the financial contribution enabling the project.
Tools offering this level of analysis are usually proprietary and expensive. The Electrification Pathways application is open source and it has been designed in such a way that others can easily adapt the code and datasets for their needs. It also pulls from open data sources to inform its analysis, helping planners save time on resource-intensive data collection and allowing policy makers to get answers faster to key questions.
Currently the online platform has more than 280 datasets and 14 partner organisations. It is being launched this month with data on three countries – Tanzania, Zambia, and Nigeria – and can be adapted for more. Zambia used the tool to design a plan for expanding electricity access nationally.
It is expected to be complementary to already existing energy planning models that do not consider geospatial attributes related to energy. It can be used as a screening tool to inform decision making in the energy field. The quality of the tool's results is directly correlated to the quality of data inputs.
Rahul Kitchlu, a senior energy specialist at the World Bank said,“This tool represents a breakthrough in electrification planning, leveraging GIS technology and open data to provide no-cost, open source analysis that will accelerate our progress on sustainable energy for all.”
“We have 1.06 billion people who lack access to electricity. We know this will change in the future and the only questions are how, how fast, and at what cost. This tool can help countries move faster, and make more cost-effective decisions, when it comes to ensuring access to sustainable energy for all,” said Dimitris Mentis, a lead researcher with KTH’s Energy Systems Analysis division and the developer of the tool.