6 February, 2024 Member article

Take a data-led approach to scale clean energy access with ARE Member VIDA

Are you ready to join the geospatial data revolution? Just a few years ago, due diligence for building distributed energy infrastructure was a long, laborious and often uncertain process. Entrepreneurs and government officials travelled from village to village, often on poor roads, with manual surveys and collecting anecdotal information.

“Geospatial data has revolutionised how we think about rural electrification,” says Cyril Grant, Executive Technical Advisor to the Minister of Energy in Sierra Leone. “Using VIDA, at the click of a mouse, we can access secure data about any location – site data, down to the number of buildings, electricity access status, road accessibility, security and more.”

VIDA is a map-based software – this means that locations and data layers are featured on an easy-to-use map that anyone can use. There are multiple uses for this approach. The government of Sierra Leone, for example, uses VIDA as its national electrification platform, where all stakeholders can meet and share site information.

VIDA is used by leading infrastructure players across emerging markets. To date, our software is applied to analyse some 750,000 locations in 40 countries and has catalysed approximately $3 billion in investment.

In the DRC, VIDA supports due diligence on previously identified sites for effective electrification deployment down to the layout of grids. In Zambia, the software is used to develop an electrification platform that offers guidance on technological and investment needs for any location. In Nigeria, the Rural Electrification Agency prioritises healthcare facilities for electrification.

So, how does it work? You simply click to drop a pin on any location in the world and receive access to more than 50 data layers. These range from the proximity of a site to transport and utilities links, to security or climate risks, to data about demand curves.

Developers are using it to understand risk, including demand risk, and conduct due diligence for any location. They can, for instance, prioritise economically promising or underserved communities, use data to build a pipeline of potential investments and easily collaborate with other stakeholders.

Other uses for VIDA include integrating existing user data-sets and attributing them to a specific location – this resolves the issue of data being stored in different formats and across various departments. It can also be used for preliminary electrification design and planning. This involves adding survey data, generating demand curves based on geospatial and survey data, and generating the distribution layouting as well.

In large cities, we have helped with mini-grid hybridisation and densification. We provide analytical modules to analyse large towns and cities for hybridisation of existing diesel mini-grids and densification of electrical connection within cities.

Get in touch with Manraj Jabbal at manraj@vida.place to find out more about how VIDA can help support your rural electrification plans. www.vida.place