Nearly 2 out of every 10 have no access to electricity. Globally the number of people living in the dark has grown to 1.3 billion people. Of this total global population living without electricity, around half—600 million—reside in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
To address the ballooning demand of power in SSA, Mini-Grids (MG) and off-grid power solutions are identified as one of the most viable options for electricity access especially, the rural areas far from utility grid.
During the absence of grid electricity, large number of communities and businesses in the region use diesel generator sets to meet daily power need. This provides an opportunity for MG hybridization.
The countries located in SSA region are endowed with renewable energy sources particularly solar energy. Most of the countries in the continent are situated in tropical zone which receive solar irradiation on an average of up to 8 kWh/meter square/day. Hence, hybridization by using renewable energy (solar resource) and battery storage will contribute a lot in meeting the growing power need of rural people in the region.
Its (MG hybridization) increasing demand in the region has unlocked business opportunities for battery manufacturers, too. This is because batteries are crucial component of hybrid MG. And the storage of excess energy is its (MG) indispensable feature which helps in illuminating rural areas those do not have access to electricity or are far from utility grid.
The growing financial support by financial institution like Africa Development Bank and donor agencies such as USAID and USTDA for the development of hybrid MG projects are continually pushing demand for batteries among other equipment in the region.
For instance, USTDA grant to Nigeria for a feasibility study of 25 photovoltaic MG across Nigeria presented opportunities for US business firms to make sales in batteries, PV modules, etc. The MG projects are estimated to generate a total of more than 5 MW electricity benefiting rural and peri-urban communities of the country.
Moreover, MG is characterised by low installation cost, high energy security and low emission. As a result, battery storage for MG or off-grid remote power system is expected to witness significant growth increasing from an estimated installed capacity of 24 MW to around 170 MW by 2025 in the region. Although this is small proportion of actual power requirement in the region, but it will contribute a lot in addressing the power deficit challenge of rural population in small time frame.
Subarna Poudel is a researcher with Frost & Sullivan. He can be reached at email@example.com
Sapan Agarwal drives content and marketing for Frost & Sullivan. Sapan is based out of Kuala Lumpur Malaysia and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org | +603 6204 5830