Distributed Renewable Energy Sources - Africa


For many rural customers in Africa, distributed renewable energy sources such as mini-grids represent a cheaper alternative to diesel generators or main grid extension. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA)’s Africa Energy Outlook 2022, “mini-grids and stand-alone systems, mostly solar based, are the most viable solutions,” to reaching universal energy access in Africa by 2030.

💡 Crossboundary’s Mini-Grid Innovation Lab works to test, iterate and analyze data on the factors that impact the commercial viability and reliability of mini-grids.

The Lab recently took a closer look at consumption patterns, finding reliable power boosts consumption by ~9X.

Here’s why this matters:

📉 Unreliable power hinders African businesses and commercial enterprises

African businesses have a hard time reaching their full potential without access to constant power. Lack of reliable power is consistently cited as one of the top challenges African businesses face today.

These businesses are the highest-consuming customer segment for mini-gids, and they have zero tolerance for unreliable power – they will adopt expensive alternatives such as diesel generators or scale back operations to maintain some profitability.

Growing African businesses is key to economic development on the continent. According to The World Bank findings, there is a strong negative relationship between power outages and employment that reduces the probability of employment by approximately 35% in a community.

📈 Customers reward reliable power by consuming ~9X more

Our data from more than 67 mini-grid sites supports this finding – we calculated a grid score for each site based on an assessment of whether the grid was on or off as indicated by smart-meter data. We then conducted a clustering analysis to group these sites into low, medium, and high-reliability sites.

The analysis shows that the average consumption per user (ACPU) on sites with the highest grid scores is ~9X higher.

⚡️ This data highlights the importance of reliable, stable supply of power in supporting commercial enterprises and ultimately mini-grid economic viability. Though mini-grids are often more reliable than the main grid, operators cannot be complacent in maintaining their quality of service.

➡ Read more about taking the electric brake off African enterprise: https://bit.ly/3cgRlrP

Check back for regular updates from CrossBoundary’s Mini-Grid Innovation Lab, supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, as we test and iterate on mini-grid innovations designed to close the gap on the 618 million Africans who do not have power.

#minigrids #energyaccess #renewableenergy