Energy access: The link to inequality and how wireless power transmission technology can help

Emrod was recently invited to the Africa Energy Forum 2020 – Ministers’ Roundtable as a guest speaker. The theme of this year’s conference was The 5th Industrial Revolution, which seeks the intersection of Profit and Progress with Purpose and Inclusivity. This article covers the points discussed and Emrod’s proposed solution:

The 5th Industrial revolution and power supply

Whereas previous industrial revolutions marked significant developments in technology, the 5th Industrial revolution seeks the connection of innovation to purpose and inclusivity. But the question is, how do we accomplish this? At Emrod, we’re tackling a significant underlying cause for global inequality – reliable access to affordable electricity.

Access to electricity is not only a matter of comfort or a sign of prosperity, it is also the main key to economic development. It provides a means to access technology, and therefore the ability to participate in the global digital economy and reap the economic benefits that come with innovation. Without reliable access to electricity and telecommunications, countries and communities cannot keep up with those that do have access. This is an underlying reason for growing economic inequality around the world. Africa is a prime example, wherein many regions close to 70% of the population still don’t have adequate access to electricity.

To read this very piece, you have to have access to electricity, the internet, and some sort of smart device. Imagine if throughout your life you lived in a city that struggled to even have reliable electricity – how might your reality be different today? What opportunities would you be missing in education or career? For the team at Emrod, it’s very likely that we never would have had the resources or access to information to ever have created our technology.

Changing power supply infrastructure

While the world has seen a lot of development in energy generation and storage over the last few decades, or even over the last century, there has been very little development in the way we transmit electricity over long distances – which for the last 150 years has been through wire infrastructure.

While it has certainly proven its value, wire infrastructure does have its limitations, mainly cost and reliability. It’s relatively expensive to run pylons and wires through challenging terrain or to lay underwater cables. It’s also expensive to maintain these lines and to ensure the power supply is consistent. 

In recent decades, long-range wireless power technology has been developed mostly by NASA and the Japanese Space Agency for extraterrestrial purposes. At Emrod, we have made this technology commercially viable for terrestrial use. Our market is energy distribution, telecommunication, and engineering companies. In order to make this technology commercially viable, Emrod has further developed the technology to have the ability to transmit power over long distances, be more reliable than alternative solutions, be cost-efficient to install and run, and above all else, be safe. You can find out more about our technology here, or reach out for more in-depth information.

Emrod’s technology means that in communities where difficult terrain has made traditional line infrastructure too expensive to build and maintain, a reliable power supply is now possible. For example, traversing forests, deserts, or waterways. Using Emrod’s system, antennas and relays are installed providing an ongoing electricity supply on a large scale, which can power remote communities.

Connecting communities sustainably

Not only can wireless power transmission provide more cost effective and reliable power in some scenarios, it also opens up opportunities in sustainable energy. To maximise energy generation, wind turbines should be in areas where there is a lot of wind, and solar farms where there is plenty of sun. The cost to transmit energy from hard-to-reach places can be relatively high using existing wire and pylon infrastructure. Long range wireless power transmission technology overcomes this issue, in certain circumstances, by providing a more cost effective means of transmitting sustainable energy from where it is abundant to where it is needed.

Ensuring mobile network coverage

In the past, it has been costly for telecommunication companies to get remote cell towers up and running due to the cost of getting it connected to a power supply (e.g. having to install power lines or lay cables). It can also take excessive amounts of time when compared to the time taken to install a cell tower. Emrod’s system provides a wireless point to point connection between the utility point of supply and the cell towers using a pair of antennas – offering faster and cheaper communication network deployment.

That means less barriers for telco’s to expand their coverage to areas that were once too difficult and expensive to reach – opening up a world of possibilities to the populations that will then have access to consistent phone coverage and internet. We’ve delved deeper into the topic of Emrod’s ability to help telecommunication, you can find the full blog here.

Becoming energy exporters

One of the catalysts behind the idea that sparked Emrod was when our founder, Greg, learned that Tonga burns through approximately 20% of their GDP on importing diesel to power large generators. This is a high bill for this country to continuously foot, especially seeing as there’s no shortage of wind and sun around Tonga. Emrod’s transmission technology provides countries like Tonga and those in Africa, where natural sources of energy are abundant, affordable infrastructure to produce and transmit their own energy, and may even be able to get to a position to export it. Perhaps in the future, the countries and communities that currently struggle the most to access power could become world leaders in sustainable energy export.

Making it happen

We are working with energy distribution companies and engineering firms from around the world and expect to be running a number of pilot projects in 2021. If the above information struck a chord or is of interest to you then we’d love to talk to you about how Emrod can support the implementation of cheaper, cleaner, more reliable energy and telecommunication solutions.

Get in touch here.