In 2017-2018, Duke University launched the Energy Access Project to develop new, collaborative ways to meet the energy needs of some of the world’s most disadvantaged communities, without exacerbating climate change.
Jim Rogers and his wife, M.A. Rogers, established the project with a $1.5 million gift. The Bass Connections Challenge will add $750,000 in matching funds for a total of $2.25 million to support the project’s goal of accelerating deployment of sustainable energy and empowering the world through expanded energy access.
In 2018-2019, the Energy Access Project supported two Bass Connections project teams to assess the economic, political, geographic and cultural challenges to energy access in Zambia and to combine satellite imagery and deep learning techniques to generate maps of electric power grid networks. Projects in 2019-2020 developed an alkaline water electrolyzer and hydrogen storage system that can provide low-cost, clean fuel for cooking and heating, and used satellite imagery and remote sensing data to help decision-makers expand access to electricity in developing countries.
In 2020-2021, a Bass Connections project team is tackling the energy access challenge by filling critical knowledge gaps on the “productive use” landscape, including developing tools to identify hotspots for investment in technologies such as microgrids and solar-powered groundwater pumps to expand irrigation opportunities, and new business models for enhancing agricultural value chains in the presence of off-grid power sources.
Key Duke collaborators in the Energy Access Project include the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, the Duke University Energy Initiative, the Sanford School of Public Policy, Bass Connections and the Nicholas School of the Environment.
Image: Wires on a street in Delhi, by T. Rob Fetter