SNV contributes to a World Bank report on the scalable potential of mini-grids

Solar panels

On June 25, The World Bank launched a publication entitled "Mini-Grids for Half a Billion People: Market Outlook and Handbook for Decision Makers" terming it as “the most comprehensive study on mini-grids to date".

It provides policymakers, investors, and developers with insights on how mini-grids can be scaled up.  It takes stock of the global market and industry, analyses costs and technological innovations, and shows the importance of microfinance and income-generating uses of electricity.

SNV  was invited to contribute to the report to provide inputs on community engagement and a case study on the Mashaba Solar Mini Grid project, Zimbabwe’s first inclusive mini grid which has been implemented by a consortium of NGOs including  SNV and Practical Action. The project was funded under the European Development Fund (EDF), the main instrument for the European Union (EU) aid for development cooperation.

In the report, it was established that compared with the main grid and solar home systems, mini-grids are a more viable solution for areas with high population density and medium electricity demand. Extending the main grid to serve remote communities is often prohibitively expensive. Globally, at least 19,000 mini-grids are already installed in 134 countries, representing a total investment of $28 billion and providing electricity to around 47 million people. Most are deployed in Asia, while Africa has the largest share of planned mini-grids.

Also, the report acknowledged that at present, the total mini grid investment in countries with low levels of electricity access in Africa and Asia totals USD 5 billion. It is estimated that USD 220 billion is needed to connect 500 million people to 210,000 mini-grids in these regions by 2030. Across the globe, countries need to actively mobilize private sector investment. This can be achieved by setting up policies that support comprehensive electrification programs, promoting viable business models, and providing public funding, for example through performance-based grants.

The official launch took place at an event in Ghana where SNV energy expert  Dramani Bukari presented a session on community engagement.

Mini grids for half a billion people

Download the report here