14 October 2014 - New publication guides policy makers in the effective use of mini-grids to provide desperately needed competitive energy services for rural populations.
Progress on extending the electricity grid in many countries has remained slow because of high costs of grid-extension and limited utility/state budgets for electrification. Mini-grids provide an affordable and cost-effective option to extend crucial electricity services.
EUEI PDF, REN21 and ARE have teamed up to develop a publication to help policy makers navigate the mini-grid policy design process. The publication specifically focuses on Africa.
Putting in place the right policy for mini-grid deployment requires considerable effort but can yield significant improvements in electricity access rates as examples from Kenya, Senegal and Tanzania illustrate.
Mini-grid Policy Toolkit: Policy and Business Frameworks for Successful Mini-grid Roll-outs documents, step-by-step, the basics of rural electrification through the use of mini-grids. The toolkit provides information on mini-grid operator models; the economics of mini-grids; necessary policy and regulations needed for successful implementation.
Mini-grids can be powered with renewable energy sources, diesel or a hybrid of both. “Mini-grid based electrification powered with renewables will accelerate considerably needed energy access,” says Christine Lins, Executive Secretary of REN21. “The use of renewable energy sources such as the sun, wind, water or biomass provides the added advantage of avoiding fuel security issues associated with price fluctuations and uncertainty over fuel supply.”
Marcus Wiemann, Secretary General of the Alliance for Rural Electrification, further notes: “It is clear that renewables-based mini-grids are essential to achieve universal access to clean energy. We strongly recommend decision makers to make use of the recommendations and processes provided in this Toolkit, as clear and stable framework conditions are elementary for mini-grid investments and operations by the industry.”
Mike Enskat of EUEI PDF, “Rural electrification has to date been primarily driven by public actors. While this has been partially successful, we need more private investment to close the rural energy access gap. Building the policy framework is the starting point; only on this basis can projects be developed and financed, and ultimately rural communities be electrified.