It’s expected that solar mini-grids will play an important role in the pursuit of universal access to modern energy especially across rural Africa, particularly where grid extension is technically or financially improbable.
‘’Essentially, there are three ways of providing electricity to rural populations: grid extension; standalone solar systems; and mini-grids. The grid extension is by connecting communities to the national grid, which can be hugely expensive. Solar systems are the next solution to connect people without the option of connecting to the national grid since they are a stand-alone system,” said Norman Chege, Davis & Shirtliff’s Solar Division Manager.
“The third option and which we see as a solution to achieving universal access is mini-grids, which is a decentralized hybrid system of the national grid and solar that can function separately from the national grid,’’ he added in a statement issued in Nairobi.
As they’re not connected to a main grid, mini-grids only generate electricity for local consumption. This local nature of mini-grids allows developers to better track and understand a community’s energy needs so electricity supply can match demand.
“Mini-grids operate optimally in areas where the population is too small or remote for grid extension and standalone solar systems aren’t viable for larger electricity needs. Adoption of solar mini-grids would offer the best option to electrify remote locations,’’ he pointed out.
According to the World Bank, approximately 75 per cent of Kenyans have access to electricity from grid and off-grid sources with most of them in urban areas.
The 2022 Kenya National Electrification Strategy (KNES) seeks to identify and implement least cost options for bringing electricity to the remaining 25 per cent of households and businesses in remote areas across the country.