Technologies to harness solar power as a path to low-carbon energy are developing at breakneck speed. How can developing countries best make use of them to benefit the millions of rural poor who still live without electricity?
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The Energy Research Centre at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, focuses on energy technology, policy and development research, education and capacity building. It provides information on its research and training opportunities, and links to open-access publications and relevant websites. It also publishes its own quarterly journal, Journal of Energy in Southern Africa, which is accredited by the South African Department of Education.
Part of the UN Development Programme, the Environment and Energy group work in six areas: water governance, frameworks and strategies for sustainable development, sustainable energy, sustainable land management, biodiversity and chemicals management.
The group publishes information on its projects in each of these areas as well case study analyses, policy papers, toolkits for practitioners, press information and links to external websites.
This network, supported by the UN Environment Programme, brings together researchers from 20 'centres of excellence' across the developing world to share knowledge on energy, development and environment issues. It publishes information on its activities and links to each of its member centres. It includes a list of publications, from policy briefs to technical or meeting reports.
Grameen Shakti is a renewable energy company in Bangladesh focused on distributing solar home systems in rural areas. It installs, maintains and provides microfinance for solar home systems and trains solar engineers. Its website includes information about individual programmes, links to its research and publications, and photographs and videos of its activities.
The Guardian Environment website publishes news and commentary on environmental issues such as climate change, energy, ethical living, food and recycling.
It also provides blogs, job listings and multimedia, including audio and video podcasts. Users can comment and are encouraged to join discussions.
The website also aggregates relevant news from members of the Guardian Environment Network, which brings together the world's best environment websites including SciDev.Net, China Dialogue, Real Science and the World Resources Institute.
HEDON is an online forum dedicated to household energy efficiency in the South. It aims to build a network of practitioners, policymakers, funders, and business-owners to collect and disseminate information on local, national, regional and international energy efficiency initiatives in the household energy sector.
HEDON publishes a journal, Boiling Point, with freely available archives dating back to 1982 as well as information on key topics, including forestry, gender, climate change and policy. It also publishes relevant news, events and announcements.
This website presents a collection of the International Energy Agency's information and resources on renewable energy. It includes a list of publications, events, projects and activities on renewable energy technologies and markets, including biofuels, solar, wind and geothermal power.
Mandated by 75 countries worldwide, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) aims to promote the transition to and sustainable use of renewable energy. Its website provides information — in English, French, German and Spanish — on the potential, best practices, technology available and funding for renewable energies.
It includes a presentation making the case for IRENA, a discussion paper on its role in the context of other organisations and initiatives, an overview of its founding, preparatory conferences and a roadmap.
Lighting Africa, an initiative of the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank, supports the private sector to develop and sustain markets for affordable, clean and efficient lighting and energy through off-grid technologies — including solar systems — in Sub-Saharan Africa. It provides information on business opportunities and projects, publishes news about its activities and links to relevant events.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), in the United States, focuses on research and development in renewable energy and energy efficiency. It publishes information about all its research programmes — from biomass to solar photovoltaics — and other activities including technology transfer partnerships, industry partnerships, and technical assistance to US and international government agencies and organisations.
This global policy network of governments, international institutions, nongovernmental organisations and others, aims to improve policies to support the rapid expansion of renewable energies. It publishes news and information on international and national renewable energy policies and links to numerous resources including a virtual library on renewable energy policies, a calendar of events and an interactive map. Its flagship publication Renewables Global Status Report is updated every year.
The Risø laboratory at the Technical University of Denmark focuses on research and development of sustainable energy including solar, wind and nuclear technologies. It publishes information on its research and teaching programmes and on its innovation activities, which often occur in collaboration with industries. Its website links to relevant publications and a list of Risø experts and their contact details.
SPRERI, based in Anand, India, was established in 1979. The institute aims to be a centre of excellence for renewable energies development, and promotes the use of renewables across the country.
The Solar Electric Light Fund designs and implements solar energy solutions to improve health, education, agriculture and economic growth in the developing world. It publishes information about all its projects and services — including consultancy and carbon offsetting — and links to various tools such as carbon calculators and solar training courses. It also publishes a regular blog and newsletter.
Solar Power News, part of Alternative Energy, publishes news headlines on solar power, syndicated from a variety of sources. It links to websites and videos about solar power and technologies, and hosts a discussion forum on solar photovoltaics.
SolarAid is an international charity that funds solar projects, training local communities to build small solar devices such as solar radios or lanterns and installing small solar systems for communal buildings such as medical clinics and schools. Its website publishes information on both the charity and all its projects across the developing world. It also provides information on how to make a donation or volunteer.
Solarbuzz publishes news and information about solar energy. Its website includes background information on how solar technologies work, industry statistics and reports, and links to solar-related jobs, events and manufacturers.
This electronic forum, managed by Practical Action South Asia, provides a space for stakeholders to share their knowledge and experiences of community-based renewable energy options for South Asia.
The forum includes online discussions about topical energy-related subjects; quarterly e-discussions on energy issues in the region; a bi-annual e-magazine; links to research papers on energy policy; and a notice board for energy related events and news.
The Ashden Awards for sustainable energy promotes sustainable energy solutions in the United Kingdom and developing world by awarding an annual prize to innovative projects working in the field. It publishes background information on relevant technologies including bio-gas, micro-hydro, solar, wind and wood stoves. It also hosts a library of photographs, films and case studies of all its winners since 2001. The website also includes news, research, reports, school resources and information on how to apply for an award.
The International Solar Energy Society (ISES) connects researchers and organisations, in more than 100 countries, working in solar energy technology. It publishes news about ISES conferences and events and information on all its scientific and technical projects. The ISES website also hosts an online bookshop selling books, conference proceedings and DVDs on relevant topics.