Mini-grids Best Suited To Electrify Unelectrified Population: ISA Report

Highlights :

  • The ISA report on universal energy access was released today at the 14th Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) in Goa today.
  • The report talked about bottlenecks and opportunities in universal energy access and the possible role of solar.
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The latest report by the International Solar Alliance (ISA) on universal energy access emphasized the role of solar energy in ensuring energy access in unelectrified regions in the world. ISA released the report during the 14th Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) in Goa today with representatives from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). 

The latest report claimed that their estimates claimed that mini-grids could be the best option to cater to the electricity needs of the unelectrified population in the world due to its imbibed virtue and challenges to electrifying the left-out population. It also claimed that distributed renewable energy (DRE) could cater to the left-out population. 

“It is estimated that around 59% of the unelectrified population can be best suited for electrification through solar powered mini-grids, about 30% through grid extension and the remaining 11% through DRE solutions. To achieve this, an investment of around USD 192 Billion will be required to deploy approximately 25,738 MW capacity of solar-powered mini-grids, 1,224 MW of solar-based DRE solutions, and developing grid extension infrastructure,” the report said. 

It also said that the significant technical and financial capabilities of G20 countries were well positioned to help create a supportive ecosystem for global energy access initiatives, particularly in the worst affected countries. The report also said that the targets of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) could not be met without universal access energy.

“The global share of the population without access to electricity was 9% in 2021 i.e., 675 million. At the current growth rate of energy access, 660 million people may still not have access to electricity by 2030, i.e., about 8% of the global population. As it stands, the target of universal energy access by 2030 developed under SDG 7 will not be met. The green energy transition will remain incomplete if goals of SDG 7 to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” are not achieved,” the report said. 

The ISA report also claimed that solar combined with battery storage emerged as the best choice for electrification. It also claimed that solar energy could also aid in ensuring clean cooking fuel. 

“Solar combined with battery storage is emerging as the best energy choice for electrification due to its technical maturity, affordable cost, modularity and flexibility, localised generation, bankability, and climate and social benefits. Additionally, integrating solar PV clean cooking with solar electrification solutions can help accelerate efforts to achieve clean cooking access,” the report said. 

On Indian energy access growth

The report also lauded India for extending its universal energy access. It also talked about adequate policies that boosted energy access and the growth of solar energy in the South Asian country. 

“India has made remarkable progress towards providing its population with access to electricity, with access rates growing from around 50% in the early 1990s to ~100% currently. This growth has been achieved through targeted interventions developed under a robust policy and regulatory framework,” the report said. 

It also said that India and China fared well in extending clean fuel to the people of the country, setting examples. It said, “During the past decade, the increase in the percentage of people with access to clean cooking fuels and technologies was driven almost entirely by growth in the most populous and significant countries in Asia, such as India and China.”

The report also said that the Indian journey on energy access could guide other struggling developing countries. “India, in particular, has seen successful deployment of sustainable business models as well as a number of successful electricity access initiatives. Thus, learnings from India’s electricity access journey can provide guidance to access deficit countries, who can suitably customise the learnings for their local context and replicate the same,” the report said. 

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