CREEC UNDERTAKES RESEARCH ON MINI-GRID INNOVATIONS
In the month of July 2019 CREEC conducted a Social-Economic Survey on electricity and Energy Consumption for approximately 608 households on Kalangala Island. The data collection is part of CREEC’s “Creating resilient sustainable micro-grids through hybrid renewable energy systems” project which aims to enable the development of sustainable and resilient energy distribution grids in rural communities of the low and middle-income countries: Tanzania, Uganda and Republic of the Congo, where currently, at most, 20% of the rural population has access to electricity. The data was generated so to investigate the different ways through which the project can improve access to electricity and energy in rural areas. The study involved the end users in research, design, acceptance and adoption to ensure long term sustainability and resilience through creation of appropriate incentive structures to install and maintain the mini grids in a project funded by EPSRC. For this purpose CREEC is evaluating a potential range of energy uses within the community and matching technologies to both present and future needs.
The overall vision of the project is to carry out a research that takes an integrated holistic approach, drawing on field data and experience in Africa to focus on actual needs and local realities. This ensures the development of micro-grid scenarios that can be applied to realistic situations. Taking this approach will lead to mini-grids designed to be maintainable, have good longevity with low cost, meet diverse community energy needs and be resilient to natural hazards.
The people who will benefit from this research are those without access to modern clean energy supplies. It is estimated by the African Development Bank that over 645 million Africans (approximately 40% of the continent’s population) have no access to electricity. In general, the rural population is poorer than the urban and the economy is more hand-to-mouth or subsistence which does not allow for savings of money or obtaining assets. This means that many households cannot afford connection fees or even monthly electricity costs.
The innovations being researched by the programme are of the scale that can be taken up by small to medium scale entrepreneurs. This offers the potential for local private sector investment to contribute to filling the energy supply gap. Training courses in the project will include entrepreneurial skills and the project will include networking with entrepreneurs. The existing partnership platform has good links with local renewable energy businesses. These have been integrated into the project from the outset.