Caterpillar, Honeywell bet against the grid in emerging economies
More than a billion people around the globe lack access to electricity. When it gets dark, many use kerosene lanterns or open fires to provide light and heat — dangerous options that can jeopardize health and shorten lives.
But new microgrid technologies that are disrupting utility industries in the developed world are also opening up the possibility of bringing electricity to the 19 percent of the world’s population without it. And with electricity, advocates say, come more resilient communities and economic drivers like computer use and industrial machinery.
Big industrial players also see a burgeoning business opportunity. Worldwide energy demand will grow by a third during the next 20 years — and 90 percent of that growth will come from the developing world, according to the International Energy Agency.
Caterpillar Inc. this month launched a strategic alliance with First Solar to develop photovoltaic microgrids for remote the towns, mines, islands and industrial facilities in areas now without electricity. First Solar will provide the design and the solar panels while Caterpillar provides component manufacturing and its vast distribution network.