By Nick Lusson, Business Development Executive at Jubaili Bros Solar East Africa
Sub Saharan Africa has made great strides in recent years towards universal electrification. Many countries like Ethiopia and Uganda set ambitious goals of 100% of population with access to electricity by 2030, and Kenya has targeted 2022 for the same.
In order to hit these ambitious targets, no doubt mini grids will play a large part in reaching some of the rural populations who live far from the existing distribution grid, but in great enough density to make a minigrid feasible.
When trying to achieve universal access to electricity there are generally three options:
- grid extension,
- localized mini grids for power generation and distribution within a small area of a certain number of independent off takers, and
- stand alone solar battery solutions to serve individual homes or needs.
An analysis of the cost of grid extension, mini grids, and stand alone solar-battery systems shows that there is a threshold of distance from the grid and population density that makes a minigrid the best option for electrification. Distance from main grid lines makes grid extension too expensive, and population density makes a localized mini grid with distribution more cost effective than individual solar-battery systems for individual consumption.