Session 3.2: Going Beyond Solar Home Systems: Scaling Up Micro-grids and Mini-grids

May 22nd, 2019

Solar rooftop PV, particularly solar home systems, are well established globally, including across rural communities in Asia. Some efforts to promote solar rooftop have been successful; however, others, especially in remote and island communities, face multiple technical problems, including lack of proper maintenance or equipment replacement. This session highlighted approaches to scaling up solar PV in rural communities and also explored micro-grid and mini-grid configurations to provide economies of scale while ensuring reliable and adequate energy supply to power productive uses beyond household energy requirements.

Moderator: Hongpeng Liu, Director, Energy Division, UNESCAP


Assessing the Impact of Renewable Energy Based Microgrids on Local Development and the SDGs: Insights from the Philippines
Paul Bertheau, Researcher, Reiner Lemoine Institute

The Cobrador Island Solar-Diesel Hybrid Project is one of ADB’s outstanding projects and led to increases in service hours (24 hours per day), affordability (50% tariff reduction), and environmental soundness (share of renewable energy share up to 90%). This presentation focused on the impact of the project on local development and the sustainable development goals (SDGs) through a household questionnaire focusing on socio-economic characteristics, electricity usage patterns, and subjective perceptions of change after hybridization.

Trends in Micro-Grids and Smart Grids to Scale-Up Solar PV in the Pacific
Jaquelin Cochran, Group Manager for the Grid Systems Group in the Strategic Energy Analysis Center, NREL (Clean Energy Solutions Center)

The CESC is partnering with the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility to support the region’s development of micro-grid and smart-grid infrastructure. As governments and utilities in the Pacific Islands work to integrate more renewable energy into their electricity grids, smart grid technologies and micro-grids are emerging as important tools to modernize their energy systems, reduce energy losses, increase energy access and build resiliency. This presentation explored challenges and opportunities from the increasing number of micro-grid and smart grid technologies being deployed in the Pacific. Policy, finance, and technical opportunities were also discussed in support of governments, utilities and energy professionals to further progress towards their ambitious targets for renewable energy and energy access.

Reimagining Puerto Rico: The Mini Gird Transformation
Kyle Datta, Board Member, PREPA Transformation Advisory Council

PREPA has developed a power system transformation plan calling for separating the territory into eight autonomous minigrids that would operate independently in the event of a major catastrophe. This presentation covered the core elements of the PREPA plan, the underlying thought process, other approaches under consideration in California, and how this applies to the coastal and island areas in Asia.

Women-Centric Mini-Grid Enterprises in South Asia: Micro Hydropower in Nepal and Pakistan
Ranisha Basnet, Community and Energy Advisor, Energypedia UG

Renewable energy mini-grids are becoming a widely accepted solution for cost-effective and reliable energy access. Hydro mini-grids in Nepal and Pakistan reveal that the long-term sustainability of projects is dependent on whether they are run as enterprises that generate revenue that is re-invested into the project. Our experiences show that women-centric approaches to mini-grid ownership, management, and productive end use result in longer-lived micro hydropower systems. This presentation provided an overview of two women-centric energy access projects. In Pakistan, the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme has facilitated women to become shareholders of enterprise-based mini-grids. This has resulted in women being at the center of decision-making and having the right to receive profits and/or shares from the sale of electricity. In Nepal, the UNDP Renewable Energy for Rural Livelihoods Program has developed women-owned productive end use, while facilitating grant-dependent projects to become self-sustaining, enterprise-based mini-grids. Our efforts show that SDG 7 (Access to Energy) and SDG 5 (Gender Equality) have a clear opportunity to be addressed hand-in-hand.