21 MW of Solar PV for Emerging Market Community Mini-grids Announced Since April

Since April 2016, there has been 21 MW of new solar PV community mini-grid capacity announced in emerging global markets, according to a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

In its inaugural quarterly outlook for the off-grid and mini-grid market, BNEF said an additional 2.3 MW of wind mini-grids also are in the pipeline. The solar and wind mini-grid projects are located in Nepal, Madagascar, Somalia, Tanzania, Kenya, Mai, Democratic Republic of Congo, and American Samoa.

BNEF said that storage providers, such as Fluidic and Electro Power Systems, are cooperating with national utilities in regions that are not covered by the grid.

“This approach involves relatively lengthy lead times and high initial transaction costs, with the projects tending to be relatively large as a result,” BNEF said.

Fluidic, for example, will build a mini-grid to serve 100 remote villages in Madagascar. The system will have a capacity of 7.5 MW (solar)/45 MWh, according to the report.

Mini-grid Policy Insight

BNEF said in the report that new mini-grid regulations in Nigeria are expected soon to support a goal of bringing electricity to 75 percent of the country by 2020. That goal would require powering 10 million homes at a cost of about $9 billion.

Draft regulations for Nigeria suggest the introduction of site-specific retail tariffs, as well as standards and investment programs for mini-grids that eventually integrate with the national grid.

BNEF noted that the new regulations would establish buy-out values for mini-grids that are connected to the main electricity network.

“In theory, this offers investors certainty to commit capital, although the details are not clear,” BNEF said, adding that “investment may also be slowed by macro-economic considerations.”

Lead image credit: BizanceNCo | Flickr

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Jennifer Delony, analyst for TransmissionHub, started her career as a B2B news editor in the local and long-distance telecommunications industries in the '90s. Jennifer began covering renewable energy issues at the local level in 2005 and covered U.S. and Canadian utility-scale wind energy as editor of North American Windpower magazine from 2006-2009. She also provides analysis for the oil and natural gas sectors as editor of Oilman Magazine.

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