Climate video series: Bringing power to the developing world

November 7, 2017
By: Robert Sanders


California leads the way in finding sustainable energy supplies to combat climate change, but Dan Kammen’s experience in the developing world makes it clear that energy solutions, like politics, must be local.

Working with state regulators, Kammen’s Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at UC Berkeley has mapped a rigorous step-by-step pathway for California to reach its emission goals. His research has revealed the need for a dramatic shift to electricity and away from both fossil and biofuels.

At the same time, however, his lab has looked at the future needs of the 1.3 billion people worldwide — 15 percent of the planet’s population — who still lack electricity. Their growing demand will raise, not lower, global temperatures.

Focusing on local solutions to lessen the emissions of planet-warming fossil fuels, his group is leading a field test to measure the environmental benefits and energy savings of widespread use of cleaner, more efficient cook stoves. His energy models also show that much of Africa can provide for future energy needs with an interconnected grid composed primarily of renewable sources like wind and solar while simultaneously reducing the continent’s reliance on fossil fuels.

Kammen sees great promise in efforts to bring together new technologies with best practices to electrify those who don’t have power and to “green it” for everybody else.

In this six-minute video, recorded in May at the Cal Future Forum, Kammen describes how we can bring together new technologies with best policy practices to bring sustainable and renewable power the developing world.