All DRE Technologies

Myanmar mini-grids near 100; market at growth cross-roads

To understand mini-grid utilization trends, Smart Power Myanmar’s Applied Energy Lab is analyzing data on consumer demand for appliances to increase confidence in data, strengthen utilization rates and maximize investor confidence. Here are the key findings.

Decentralized, off-grid solar-powered irrigation systems in the Global South

Solar irrigation pumps are able to boost agricultural productivity, help farmers become more climate-resilient and increase their income, however, the environmental and societal trade-offs from these innovations require further scrutiny.

Solar irrigation helps farmers battle climate-induced droughts

To advance productivity in Rwanda’s agricultural sector, Energy 4 Impact launched a project that seeks to create the conditions for a sustainable solar irrigation market by increasing awareness, availability and affordability of appropriate technologies among 3,000 smallholder farmers.

12 (not so) obvious insights about DRE for productive use

Over the last decade, decentralized clean energy solutions have provided basic access to lighting for hundreds of millions of people. The next decade will be about moving beyond lighting to solutions that increase productivity. Here's a list of key issues to watch.

Powering clean farm-to-fork solutions for a #zerohunger world

More than 40% of food loss in emerging economies occurs during post-harvest and processing. A reliable cold chain is crucial for food security and improved livelihoods. Distributed renewables have a major role to play.

Energy access and economic growth

Our head of research Dr. Rebekah Shirley talks to BBC Africa about access to reliable electricity as a prerequisite for economic growth and development in sub-Saharan Africa's rural areas

Humanitarian energy is in growing demand

With unprecedented levels of global displacement, there is an urgent need for continued and growing efforts in support of these vulnerable groups, especially in the growing field of humanitarian energy.

OPINION: Franchising the new paradigm for PAYG solar

The pay-as-you-go (PAYG) market for scaling access to solar energy is maturing quickly. Building market share through customer acquisition is no longer the top priority, being replaced by cost efficiency and portfolio management. More savvy funders are now embracing consolidation, thoughtful expansion or franchising. The era of the PAYG start-up is dead.

SDG7 needs greater South-South cooperation

As the United Nations gathers in New York to deliberate climate action and the sustainable development goals (SDGs), including SDG7, we must ask ourselves: how is the Global South best served?

Is off-grid solar lighting still relevant in India?

IFC Lighting Asia experts Anjali Garg, Brendon Mendonca and Salman Zahir weigh in on new opportunities amid uncertain times

Micro-grids reshaping energy in Lebanon

Lebanon suffers from sporadic electricity supply. An aging grid, a lack of domestic fuel supply, and political sectarianism has rendered electricity both intermittent and expensive. Thousands of diesel generators struggle to meet the shortfall but have not been able to keep pace with demand. Today Lebanon finds itself one of the three most indebted countries in the world with one third of its budget deficit going toward fuel subsidies.

Policymakers in Nigerian states report growth in DRE markets, seek increased cooperation

In December 2018, Power for All concluded -long Scaling Off-Grid Energy project which it co-implemented with FHI360 funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Power Africa. The project objective was to reduce the number of un-electrified people in Nigeria by increasing their access to modern, clean and affordable electricity through decentralized renewable energy (DRE) solutions.

Fact Sheet: Mini-grids set for 60% cost decline

A study by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) shows how through cost reductions, rural mini-grids can quickly scale as a commercially viable business model to provide access to millions of people and businesses across sub-Saharan Africa.

Research Summary: US$440 per person needed to scale mini-grids

According to a new World Bank report, only US$28 billion has been injected in global mini-grid deployment to date, far from the US$220 billion needed to achieve their full potential.

Local manufacturing: a next frontier for SDG7

Almost without exception, the growth of distributed renewable energy (DRE) in sub-Saharan Africa and developing economies in South and Southeast Asia has been achieved on the back of inexpensive imports from China. That is changing.

World Bank: main grid subsidy up to 2x mini-grids

In a new report, the World Bank concluded that subsidies per connection for small, private rural utilities called mini-grids are often significantly less than subsidies received by the large, public main grid.

Mini-grids show momentum, but donors largely missing

After almost a decade of struggling to hone business models, access finance and gain political backing, mini-grids appear to finally be ready for scale.

Risk-Pooling Initiative Strives to Unlock Commercial Investment in African Mini-Grids

Green Aggregation Tech Enterprise aims to prepare off-grid energy financing for a self-sustaining future in Africa that involves all types of funding, including commercial lending.

Investor Position Paper: Unlocking Private Capital for Mini-Grids in Africa

For mini-grids to attract private investment, they require consistent, reliable, and rapidly deployable Results-Based Financing (RBF) programs. This paper was prepared by the signatory investors to present a unified message of support for these RBF programs to donors.

Mini-grids: catalyzing investment with results-based finance (RBF)

Less than 15% of $1.7 billion of investment in off-grid energy between 2010-2018 went to mini-grids. Yet $10-25 billion is needed annually to bring electricity to 450 million people by 2030 via renewable energy mini-grids. Investors believe the missing catalyst to unlock private capital is results-based finance (RBF).

Transforming rural electrification with remote monitoring

The remoteness and complexity of off-grid energy systems can pose substantial operational challenges. Implementing remote monitoring and management offers concrete cost reduction and reliability. IoT can enable electrification across rural regions​ with smart, renewable energy to support economic development.

Harvesting energy means breaking down silos

2 billion smallholder farmers are among the most underserved populations in the world. Better access to clean energy has the ability to transform agriculture and speed econonic development, says Factor[e], but financial, operational, technical, and policy barriers need to be overcome.


Based on input from a diverse set of sources including the Mini-Grids Partnership (MGP) steering committee and the Africa Mini-grid Developers Association (AMDA), this guide is a reference tool to help various stakeholders understand the importance of the global mini-grid sector. With this guide, sector stakeholders, including businesses, funders, government and civil society, should be able to easily discuss mini-grids at a high level or in-depth, using clearly sourced evidence.

Mini-grids: "outside-in" electrification

Our latest video looks at how micro-grids have successfully helped countries bring electricity to their farmers and rural industries. Examples include the United States, Cambodia, and most recently Nigeria.

Diesel is dying in rural economies: data

Long the only choice for off-grid, under-the-grid and back-up power generation in emerging economies, diesel is now on a death watch with the rise of renewable-powered machinery, growing solar adoption by rural enterprises, and business and finance innovation. That means billions of dollars saved and gigatons of emissions avoided.

Research Summary: Mini-grids in Ethiopia

In the fifth of our mini-grid market assessment series, we highlight the US$639 million opportunity in Ethiopia as quantified by the African Development Bank's Green Mini-Grid Market Development Program. 16.2% of the 100 million population are best served by mini-grids.

Research Summary: DRC Mini-Grid Market

Home to 80 million people, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the largest and fourth most populated country in Africa, but also the least electrified. SEforALL Africa hub in conjunction with the African Development Bank published a market assessment as part of the Green Mini-Grid Market Development Programme (GMG MDP) document series. Here we highlight the key messages.

2 Keys to Scaling Energy Access

Distributed renewables play an increasingly important role in promoting energy access, already accounting for 6 gigawatts of capacity in the developing world, with an expectation of providing over 60% of new electricity connections in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2030. New analysis in Escaping the Energy Poverty Trap shows that national governments need two things to succeed in creating markets for distributed renewables: 1) institutional capacity and 2) local accountability mechanisms.

Mini-grids boost women entrepreneurship; up to 11x income rise

A new study in Ghana by Power Africa and Energicity, the parent company of solar mini-grid developer Black Star Energy (BSE), has revealed significant impact of electricity access on women-owned businesses and incomes, including helping them move from extreme poverty to near middle class status, while allowing them to stay in their rural communities.

Mini-Grids: Myanmar’s Next Decentralized Technology Revolution

Decentralized electricity generation systems such as mini-grids avoid the high cost of bringing electricity long distances by constructing small-scale power plants right next to the point of consumption.

New analysis indicates grid extension poor fit for rural poor

Should private off-grid solar companies continue to expand their user base? Or is the grid better suited for poor, rural consumers? [Spoiler Alert: Yes and No]

Middle-Income Countries Big Winner from Off-Grid Energy. Who’s Next?

As demonstrated in by new data from IRENA, off-grid renewable electricity has grown tremendously across the world over the last decade, but growth was very uneven. Why was off-grid successful in some places and not others?

Six Nuclear Reactors Worth of Off-Grid Renewable Energy Deployed in Last 10 Years—But Sub-Saharan Africa Lagging

The deployment of off-grid electricity is one important pathway toward reducing energy poverty. Off-grid technology can meet basic needs at an increasingly affordable cost and, when powered by renewable sources, in a clean manner. Yet until recently, we knew little about the current state of affairs: how much capacity do off-grid systems currently provide? And where?

What we mean by “productive use”—and why it matters.

Productive use is one of the hottest buzzwords in the world of energy access today, increasingly used by development banks, industry leaders, and civil society organizations (among others!) as the work to deliver energy to 1 billion people evolves beyond just lighting. But what does “productive use” of energy actually mean?

Research Summary: A mini-grid market opportunity assessment of Burkina Faso

The African Development Bank has developed Mini-Grid Market Opportunity Assessments for a number of Sub-Saharan African countries. In this second summary, we highlight the potential of mini-grids in Burkina Faso

The bankability of mini-grid business models is improving but regulation remains the biggest challenge.

Energy and Environment Partnership Trust Fund (EEP Africa) has financed 43 minigrid projects in 10 countries in Southern and Eastern Africa. Their recently published report Opportunities and Challenges in the Mini-grid Sector in Africa draws lessons from the EEP Africa portfolio and explains that infrastructure financing and regulatory environments are the main ‘make-or-break’ contributors to mini-grid bankability.

Mini-Grids: Key to Ending Energy Poverty

Private utilities called mini-grids have the potential to bring access to electricity to 450 million people by 2030, helping to end energy poverty while also laying the foundation for rural economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa and many others regions and countries.

A mini-grid market opportunity assessment of Cameroon

SEforAll Africa hub in conjunction with the African Development Bank recently published a Mini-Grid Market Opportunity Assessment of Cameroon as part of the Green Mini-Grid Market Development Programme (GMG MDP) document series.

Electricity access must be climate resilient

Given the speed and scale with which climate impacts are being felt around the globe, emerging economies—or any economy for that matter—no longer have the luxury of planning for their energy systems as though climate change doesn’t matter and won’t impact it in fundamental ways.

Fact Sheet: Mini-Grids in India: Mini-Grid Finance and Business Models

India has seen rising investment in mini-grids, which can help accelerate India’s universal energy access goals. In our second fact sheet on India mini-grids, we explore the different business models being deployed in India, with their successes and challenges.

Turning Data Into Insight

According to the UN, the “deployment of decentralized renewable energy is fueling a disruptive transformation of the energy sector”, by providing a fast, cost-effective and sustainable approach to universal energy access. Yet we at Power for All, our partners and stakeholders agree that many actors with the influence to accelerate decentralized renewable energy (DRE) growth.

Nigeria’s Abia State Leads on Scaling Off-grid Energy

One of the major objectives of the Scaling Off-Grid Energy project (SOGE), funded by USAID and Power Africa and co-implemented in Nigeria by Power for All and FHI360, is to increase awareness and knowledge among sub-national policymakers of how decentralized renewable energy (DRE) solutions can accelerate energy access. The main platform for meeting this goal is a 6-part series of regional workshops, called DRE101, with the first two already held in Kogi State, North-Central Nigeria, and Enugu State, South-Eastern Nigeria.

Nigeria: The Next Big Frontier for Rural Electricity Access

Igu, a farming village in Nigeria of about 4000 people, has never had electricity, despite being located in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, just an hour’s drive from the seat of Nigeria's Federal Government, Abuja. For villages like Igu, getting access to energy has until now remained a far-fetched dream.

100 Partners to Share

Reaching Power for All will take the Action of Many. And without those who form our campaign—practitioners, advocates, villagers, officials, funders—we can't succeed. To celebrate everyone who is working to achieve energy access, and to mark reaching our 100 partner milestone, we have created a shareable image. We hope you will use it, and join us in demanding that energy access does not have to wait!

Research Summary: Positive Household Benefits of DRE

A new analysis by Acumen, exploring the impact of its distributed renewable energy (DRE) investments in 11 countries, finds that the majority of households served by DRE products are near or below the poverty line, and that such products, on average, show positive impact in all well-being metrics measured. The report finds that decentralized renewables represent an opportunity to leapfrog into clean, reliable, need-based energy services.

Top trends for energy access in 2018

Power for All’s Willie Brent attended the recent GOGLA Global Off-Grid Solar Forum, to hear the latest on the distributed solar revolution. Besides a new report that said the sector has already impacted 360 million lives and would reach $8 billion in revenue by 2022, here are some other takeaways.

What’s the best battery for rural mini-grids?

New testing by the Institute for Transformative Technologies (ITT) finds Lithium-Ion (Li-ion), Aqueous Hybrid Ion (AHI) and Advanced Lead Acid (ALA) batteries all have strengths, but cost will be king

Waste Biomass Power Set to Surge in India

Solar energy has received most of the attention in India’s ongoing energy transition. But the country’s draft National Energy Policy (NEP) has called for putting greater resources behind projects that convert waste agricultural biomass into electricity.

Virtually Battery-Free, 100% Renewable, Remotely-Managed Rural Utility Is Coming

Husk Power Systems, an early pioneer in developing micro-grids for poor, rural communities in India and sub-Saharan Africa, plans a 7-fold increase in its power plants to 600 within 5 years, expanding into a fully-fledged rural utility that delivers reliable 24/7 grid-compatible power and better customer service than incumbent utilities.

5 Untapped Apps of Solar Irrigation

The benefits of solar pumps are not restricted to irrigation, in India and globally. Besides reducing pollution and emissions by replacing diesel generators, they can deliver many other applications, which is critical in India, a country where agriculture accounts for 15% of GDP and more than 50% of the population is dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods.

SELCO: Scaling rural electrification via bank capacity building

The biggest frustration voiced by enterprises looking to deliver last-mile electricity connections to the rural poor is lack of finance. To solve this major roadblock to scale, SELCO Foundation has developed an innovative program that has nothing to do with money. It focuses instead on people and process. Sound boring? Not at all, and it may be a key to fully unlocking the distributed energy transition sweeping the world.

Is cold storage the next green mini-grid "anchor tenant"?

Many of India's leading mini-grid developers launched their businesses by powering remote telco towers close to communities lacking reliable electricity. While this model has provided guaranteed off-take and revenue, the search is now on for additional (and more productive) anchor loads as the mini-grid market evolves and innovates.

Claro Energy: scaling solar irrigation in India (and Africa)

India's market for solar pumps for irrigation and drinking water was virtually non-existent in 2011, when Claro Energy was founded. But recent attention from federal and state governments, including subsidies, has created a $700 million annual market that is set to expand rapidly.

Change Minds, Activate Markets

In a recent Power for All survey of leading decentralized renewable energy (DRE) companies (stay tuned for full results in March), marketing campaigns were pinpointed as “crucial for raising awareness about the benefits” of DRE—with the majority of respondents ranking them first in importance for effective market building programs. In line with both research on reaching base-of-the-pyramid consumers, and the clear upward trajectory of energy access following consumer awareness campaigns, the survey results inspired us to look more closely at the question: What makes a successful DRE awareness campaign? Luckily, there are some impressive examples.

Notes from the Frontline: Devergy

This week, Power for All partner Devergy shared an honest, tell-all look at the difficulties they faced when raising awareness of their solar micro-grid technology in rural communities, and the hard work they put in to creating solutions. Read their first-hand account of the challenges they countered attracting new customers, and how they have turned challenges into opportunity.

Caterpillar Interview: Micro-Grid Challenges and Opportunities

With the reduced cost of renewable technologies and rising innovation, micro-grids are a growing opportunity in emerging markets, one which is already reducing fuel consumption, lowering emissions and driving energy access. It is an opportunity that has not been missed by Caterpillar.

4 E's: Here Come the Utilities

Long filed under “corporate social responsibility” (CSR), 2017 will mark the year when decentralized renewable energy (DRE) attains legitimacy among the world’s leading utilities as a strategic, core business opportunity.

Beyond Lighting: New Year, New Breakthroughs

“The interest we’re seeing in this round of the Global LEAP Awards, particularly in the innovation prize for off-grid refrigerators, is amazing.” A conversation with Matt Jordan, Director at CLASP, an NGO that leads several programs in support of the Global Lighting and Energy Access Partnership (Global LEAP), is like lifting the lid on a whole new world of possibility: the demand side of energy access, and specifically the role of high-quality, highly efficient appliances. 2017 looks set to be the year this giant market opportunity will burst out of strategy meetings and into the spotlight.

Why the World Needs Decentralized Renewable Energy

Over 1 billion people do not have access to reliable, affordable electricity; they are often forced to turn to polluting, hazardous, and expensive solutions like kerosene, charcoal and diesel in order to fuel their lives.

5 Reasons Decentralized Renewables are a Trump Card for Climate Change and Energy Access

At COP22 the shock of last week’s unexpected election results has many worried that a Trump presidency could jeopardize climate finance and climate action. So it is a good time to remember why the global community, including the United States, must redouble its efforts in support of decentralized renewable energy (DRE). Here are 5 reasons:

Decentralized renewables: the front line against climate change

As climate negotiators gather in Marrakech for COP22, we must shine a spotlight on the world’s 1.1 billion people living without electricity, not only because they are the most vulnerable to climate change, but because they also offer a roadmap for the rest of the world on how to build a decentralized, democratized clean energy future. This roadmap would achieve universal energy access and, by 2030, eliminate a gigaton of CO2e each year—equal to eliminating the emissions of Germany, the world’s 4th largest economy.

Decentralized solar is on fire in India

Small and rooftop solar is the fastest growing clean energy sector in India, with a blistering 92 percent compound annual growth rate over the past four years, according to a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) released today. The segment will continue to see high growth rates, given ambitious government targets (40GW of rooftop solar by 2020), specific rooftop solar policy in most states including net-metering, new business models being tried by entrepreneurial companies and an increasing availability of debt and equity, the report said.

Mini-Grid Momentum on the Rise

Last week saw the launch of the new Africa Development Bank Green Mini-Grid (GMG) Help Desk to build momentum behind the continent’s clean energy development. The Help Desk—operated by Energy4Impact and INENSUS GmbH as part of the SE4All Green Mini Grid Market Development Program—provides catalytic support to the GMG sector. The launch comes as new research anticipates a 60% reduction in the cost of solar PV mini-grids, and as policy-maker support for GMGs has seen rapid growth around the world—notably in India and Nigeria, the countries with the world’s largest number of people living without electricity.

Off-Grid Fridge Contest Makes Energy Efficiency "Cool" Again

The 1.4 billion domestic refrigerators and freezers in use worldwide each consume an average annual 450 kWh of electricity, accounting for almost 14 percent of total household electricity consumption. As we work to end energy poverty for 1.1 billion people worldwide, those numbers are sure to rise.

Insight: 5 World-Changing Energy Access Innovations

Energy access is not just about powering homes and businesses, but creating the energy needed to meet every one of our Sustainable Development Goals. These pioneering decentralized renewable solutions have the potential to plug billions into the information age, combat the biggest global threat to children's health and provide clean water to millions. Check out these five innovations that could help change the world.

Decentralized Renewables & The Rise of the Micro-Enterprise Economy

Decentralized renewable energy has traditionally been under-estimated in emerging markets as only being capable of delivering electricity for home use, and then mostly for basic lighting. “Productive use”—creating goods and services either directly or indirectly for the production of income or value—has been more elusive.

Webinar: What's ahead for decentralized renewables?

In this webinar, hosted by the Clean Energy Solutions Center, we join forces with REN21 to profile key findings of the 2016 Global Status Report, share updates on the Power for All campaign, and answer questions on the Sierra Leone Energy Revolution, Energy Africa compacts and more.

India's leading mini-grid program shows momentum

The leading renewable energy mini-grid effort in India is showing promising initial results. The Rockefeller Foundation’s USD 75 million Smart Power for Rural Development (SPRD) initiative aims to catalyze economic development by accelerating access to electricity in 1,000 villages in India through promoting a robust and viable mini-grid sector. The Foundation established a wholly-own subsidiary, Smart Power India, to provide support services to energy service companies (ESCOs) to establish mini-grid projects in India. The initiative expects to have 100 plants up and running by end of this month, producing 3 MW of power. As of April, the program had 7,600 customers, with over 90% on-time collection efficiency.

Why is one of the world's richest countries deconstructing its grid?

Critics of "off-grid", or decentralized, energy like to say it is not "real" power. These critics prefer centralized energy solutions. But this preference is often both mis-guided and out-dated, especially as the global community attempts to achieve universal energy access by 2030 - i.e. provide electricity for the first time to 1.1 billion people worldwide. Most of those people are poor, and most live in remote areas. How - and when - they get electricity has massive implications - on climate impact, on economic development, on national security, on quality of life and also on energy infrastructure resilience and sustainability.