Truman National Security Project

New Book Shines Light on How Distributed Energy Can Stabilize Developing Countries

By Stephanie Dreyer | 4.9.12
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Washington, DC – Providing electricity to the unlit and unstable parts of the globe is crucial to jump-starting development, improving the environment, and stabilizing the fragile states that foment many of today’s security threats. But, as Dr. Rachel Kleinfeld and Drew Sloan demonstrate in their new book, Let There Be Light, centralized electricity has failed to meet these challenges. Kleinfeld and Sloan show that by using proven market-based business strategies, we can provide access to distributed energy, such as solar and wind power, to light the developing world.

“Distributed generation, if delivered properly, can change the livelihoods of the 1.5 billion people currently living in energy poverty today. It can also strengthen U.S. national security by acting as a preventive measure to avoid conflicts over resources, and it can improve human security by bypassing corrupt governments. The key to electrifying the developing world is not to give energy technology as charity, but to create a market, as cell phones have done.  The lessons and tactics laid out in this book provide a guidepost to creating a scalable market with the potential to empower millions of people,” said Dr. Kleinfeld.

In the developing world, centralized energy has failed over and over again due to construction costs, difficult terrain, political turmoil and corruption.  Well-meaning aid agencies have tried to make up the gap by donating infrastructure such as solar panels and small dams. But the nonprofit model relies on charity, which limits its growth.   Let There Be Light provides a roadmap for governments, NGOs, and businesses looking to build a scalable market for distributed electricity.

“The lack of electricity is a key cause of underdevelopment, low literacy, and education levels for almost one-quarter of the world’s population.  Solutions to providing electricity to those currently without already exist in the form of wind and solar technologies.  In order to scale these solutions, however, more emphasis must be placed on creating a market ecosystem that builds upon itself.  Everyone from local entrepreneurs and private enterprises to NGOs and local governments have roles to play in this transformation— this book attempts to assign those roles and responsibilities to create a more efficient, pragmatic use of both resources and talents,” said Sloan.

Let there be Light recognizes that new business models, not new technology, are the key to bringing light to the developing world.  By identifying successful business models, financing structures, and regulatory changes, this book hopes to make lighting the developing world a reality.

Let there be Light, ISBN: 978-0-692-01563-6 and 978-0-9847814-0-9, published by the Truman National Security Institute, is a 150-page paperback retailing for $9.98. For further information contact Garrett Evenson at 202.216.9723 ext 313 or gevenson@trumanproject.org.

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Dr. Rachel Kleinfeld is the founding CEO of the Truman National Security Project. Named one of the Top 40 under 40 Political Leaders by Time Magazine, Rachel appears regularly on national radio and television. Rachel has consulted for the World Bank, EU, OECD, and multiple private organizations on issues where human security and national security meet, and her writings have been published in multiple books and articles.  She serves as a founding member of the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board, which provides the Secretary of State and other senior State Department officials with foreign policy guidance.

Drew Sloan is currently a Client Solutions Executive at the energy efficiency company, OPower.  A West Point graduate, Drew served combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan as an Infantry officer in the US Army.   Since leaving the Army, he worked at both Rocky Mountain Institute and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory while completing a dual Masters degree at the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.  His military awards include two bronze stars for meritorious service and a purple heart.