Why Minigrids Are an Effective Solution for Energy Access

Solar PV minigrids are the focus for the AMP because these technologies have emerged as a strong strategic and least-cost option for achieving higher levels of electrification in sub-Saharan Africa. We are now at a tipping point, where, if adequately supported, decentralised energy solutions in general, and minigrids in particular, are poised to be brought to scale. Here are some of the facts:

  1. If current policies and efforts are not ramped up, only 260 million people are anticipated to be electrified between now and 2030* and an estimated 670 million people will remain without access with 9/10 likely to live in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  2. Minigrids are a key solution to provide first-time access to electricity for unelectrified populations; and when interconnected to the main grid, they serve to strengthen power systems by increasing reliability, resiliency and renewable energy penetration.
  3. Half a billion people (490 million) could be connected to minigrids by 2030 – this represents an investment opportunity of USD 127 billion in 217,000 minigrids and could result in 1.2 billion tons of CO2 emissions avoided.**
  4. Minigrids have the potential to connect 430 million people globally at least cost by 2030  – with an estimated investment of  USD 105 billion; most of these new connections are required in Africa, where 380 million people can be connected at least-cost with an estimated investment of USD 91 billion in 160,000 minigrids.***
  5. Minigrids are extremely efficient, can be built in less than 6 weeks. Can currently operate at as low as 0.38$/kWh. With costs continuing to fall, this is projected to fall to 0.20$/kWh by 2030.
  6. Globally, cumulative investment to 2021 in minigrids totals $9 billion. This will need to increase to $127 billion by 2030 if minigrids are to realise their potential to benefit 490 million by this date.
  7. Benefits: 1.2 billion tons of CO2 emissions can be avoided; 200,000 communities can be transformed through reliable electricity including 200,000 schools and clinics and 10 million streetlights.
  8. Financing for minigrids needs to scale up and the pace of development needs to increase from the current 10-50 to 2,000 minigrids deployed annually per country.****

Sources: *IEA 2021 **ESMAP. 2022. Mini Grids for Half a Billion People: Market Outlook and Handbook for Decision Makers. Washington, DC: World Bank. ***ESMAP. 2022 ****ESMAP. 2022