Mini-grids in Africa


Rural electrification in developing countries remains a major development priority for policy makers. While many countries continue to pursue ambitious grid connection programmes, there is an increasing interest in decentralized generation and distribution through mini-grids.

To increase the reliability of electricity supply, a large range of approaches to mini-grid development exist already today. Different technologies are applied and different institutional and financial arrangements are set up for these developments. Mini-grids include different generation technologies, such as diesel, battery storage, solar PV, wind, hydro or biomass power generation, or a hybrid combination of two or more technologies. Mini-grids have generated therefore most interest because they mix dispatchable power sources (e.g. battery storage or diesel generation which can be delivered on demand) with non-dispatchable power sources. As such reliability and load matching increase. The better the load profile aligns with the production profile of PV and/or wind, the higher the renewable energy penetration that can be achieved.

Institutional and financial structures for mini-grids are more diverse. Mini-grids may be owned and managed by different actors and can include local level ownership. Different financial models may thus be required in order to cover upfront capital costs and the ongoing operation and maintenance costs. The most successful mini-grid schemes developed were designed taking into account local economic, social and environmental conditions. Therefore, policy and regulatory barriers can hamper the development of mini-grids.

As an independent party, 3E is well suited to guide Clients toward successful mini-grid powered project development. We combine consultancy on technical aspects, throughout the full project life cycle, as well as financial and regulatory guidance and understanding of the development of mini-grids. 3E therefore assisted both (local) governments and private clients on the feasibility to integrate PV/wind and storage and diesel options in areas with low security of supply.

On the other side of the activities, 3E’s technical due diligence and third party verification services identify, investigate and reduce the risks associated with the mini-grid project development. 3E acts as an independent, objective, third party to perform the technical due diligence on the Client´s projects. 3E has the technical ability to perform a due diligence at any stage of a project (design, setup and operational). Based on more than 10 years of experience in the PV and mini-grid developments in Africa, 3E has worked out an optimised & cost-efficient approach to deal with the different risks of a RE project. 3E is confident that for the project developer the proposed approach will result in the highest value for money.

Don’t hesitate to contact us for sharing experiences in mini-grid developments in sub-Saharan Africa.