Mini grids for half a billion people: market outlook and handbook for decision makers

Approximately 1.2 billion people will need to gain access to electricity to achieve universal access by 2030. The only way to achieve this is through a combination of the main grid extension, mini grids, and off-grid solar. This report shows that about half a billion people can be cost-effectively provided with electricity through mini grids. The combination of falling costs, dramatic increase in the quality of service, and favorable enabling environments have made modern mini grids a scalable option to complement grid extension and solar home systems. The report is the most comprehensive study on mini grids to date. It takes stock of the global mini grid market and industry; analyzes in detail the solar-hybrid mini grid costs and technological innovations; shows the importance of introducing income-generating machinery and micro-finance early in the planning process; and provides policy makers, investors and developers with insights on how mini grids can be scaled up. Modern mini grids can pave the way for more financially viable future grid expansion, as by the time the main grid arrives, significant demand for electricity already exists and customers have a greater ability to pay.