Replication of Rural Decentralised off-grid Electricity Generation through Technology and Business Innovation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Faculty of Engineering & the Environment

Abstract

The UK government through its DFID and EPSRC agencies is supporting research projects which address rural electrification in developing countries. To address this call a consortium of two UK universities (Southampton University and Imperial College), an international sustainable energy consultancy (IT Power) and a development agency (GVEP International) has been formed. Our rationale is that the high up front cost barrier to electrification of areas such as rural East Africa will remain for the foreseeable future. Most projects will continue to require external agency funding (World Bank, EU, DFID etc) and the key issue is to support these initial investments to provide a lasting social, technical, commercial and environmental legacy. The overarching aim of this proposal therefore, is the implementation of sustainable electricity supply systems that promote development and improve wellbeing in communities and can be replicated and improved through business processes. Hence, in our view a proper and a successful rural electrification project should essentially encompass three components: (a) People - delivering on the aspirations of people and providing them with the environment and the tools they need to achieve their goals - social, economic and environmental. This can be both the end users as well as the implementers - both are important to be targeted within an African context.(b) Product - technologies to provide the energy infrastructure people require. A sustainable and modular solution is best suited to rural areas. (c) Process - processes and mechanisms needed to establish robust energy technologies and economic assessment that can deliver social benefits and wealth generation for a community. Such processes and mechanisms can then be learning entities to enable replication and dissemination of sustainable energy projects that can deliver local participation and economic benefits, and drive down the capital and implementation costs. The product (technology) components are considered as relatively well understood. With appropriate funding, community energy supply can be delivered by adopting technologies such as wind, photovoltaics, biomass, micro-hydro or hybrid systems. The business process and connection with people often remains weak and compromises existing rural electrification projects. It is therefore important to understand the changes in business process that need to be made to enable village energy systems to become self supporting and deliver the wider benefits for communities that are often claimed. In addition, it is also necessary to understand which business process is best suited for which type of community and how one progress from the issues of 'one off' projects to deliver replication models that drive down costs, raise quality and local participation, and enhance the quality of life of villagers. All the above is coupled with understanding and quantifying the potential socio-economic impact of improving the wellbeing and the economic prosperity in rural areas in developing countries. These issues are at the centre of this proposal.Our proposal will develop systematic approaches to achieving the aim of the project. The program of work will undertake the electrification of three villages in rural Kenya and assess the impact of the provision of electricity on people's lives against United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Through the program we aim to build capacity with partner countries and organisations. To deliver this, the progress of the project will be disseminated through a specially formulated open network of academics and stakeholders, initially across Africa as well as specially designed workshops to be held in Africa over the five year program period.

Publications

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Description The concept of the E4D programme has people at its core, engaging effectively with communities to determine their energy needs, design appropriate community vehicles and power supply systems for long term sustainability. One major aim of E4D is to invigorate communities and their village centres, providing support for self-governance, finance and entrepreneurship. The approach is centred on the creation of a community-based cooperative, so that it can operate and maintain an electrical mini-grid supplying power derived from a renewable energy system (solar photovoltaic (PV), micro hydro, wind etc) taking into account the local renewable resources available at the site. The power plant and the minigrid are installed within a village trading centre (TC) or a village centre to directly supply power to businesses who, in turn, provide the surrounding community with electrical charging facilities for appliances such as LED lanterns for lighting, mobile phones, radios or TVs. The grid is designed to supply power to all TC buildings - shops, cafes, schools, health centres, places of worship etc. and the plant infrastructure provides a focus for the TC, providing management offices and meeting facilities for the community, its committees and housing the plant equipment. The income to the created cooperative provides the needed running cost (project management etc) and working capital - replacement cost of components as well as microfinance to relevant activities (LED lighting etc) in the community. This is the concept of the Kitonyoni Village Market solar project established in 2012 in Makueni County, Kenya (www.energyfordevelopment.net). Such a concept invigorated the whole community, displaced the use of candles or kerosene (costly and with negative health effects) for lighting within community households and businesses and created other commercial facilities for the community. We estimate that up to 3000 local people can now benefit from electrical services. The school, health centre, maternity unit and 40 businesses have round-the-clock stable electricity, allowing them to provide services such as food refrigeration, lighting and phone and battery charging facilities. We have consolidated the running and management of the implemented mini-grid technology in Kitonyoni, while replicating the scheme in another four villages in Kenya, Uganda and Cameroon. These new schemes have benefited from lessons and training gained at Kitonyoni and have been partly funded by the government agencies of those countries responsible for rural electrification.
Exploitation Route Plans for project replication are currently underway and we have commissioned a study to give insights into the assessment of policies needed to promote the provision of rural energy services in Africa. The E4D team is developing links with various funding and financing agencies to support the community-based energy for development (E4D) concept. In addition to the projects in Kenya and Cameroon, we are currently considering other projects in Zambia, Uganda and Mozambique. In the latter two countries and in association with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) we have already identified project sites and developed concepts for exemplar projects which will be partially funded by governments and regional leaders, with support from E4D team in these countries. In addition to bilateral meeting in Jeddah, the first IDB/E4D joint mission to Uganda occurred in Feb 2014. The learning we have achieved from the Kenya, Uganda and Cameroon projects will be utilised within these projects and to inform these countries.
In addition, and as part of our effort and to support our concept, there is now a direct line of US$180million soft loan finance (0.5 - 1.5 % over 25 years) available to the 56 governments who are members of the IDB. The E4D concept has greatly influenced the creation of this finance which will be launched by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) in June 2014 in Dakar, Senegal.

We also partnered with International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) to work jointly in energy for development area and the E4D concept. This will encompass projects under the recently announced US$350 million Abu Dhabi Fund for Development. This is in the form of soft loans, 2 - 6%, over 15-20 year with a grace period of up to 5 years front. This fund is administered by IRENA and a joint agreement is being negotiated with IDB to allow transitions and support to be provided as single or multi institution financing. We have developed templates for IRENA/IDB projects that provide technical specifications and aggregations to support governments' projects arising from Mauritania, Mozambique, Uganda, Zambia, Cameroon and Senegal. Initial projects will be launched during the IDB meeting in June 2014. These projects will enhance replication and provide the needed learning and knowledge for the promotion and the provision of energy services in rural communities.
We previously trained around 20 researchers in understanding and conducting the baseline surveys. During this period, GIS training was given to the Kenyan Ministry of Energy and REA staff. We also trained another 10 researchers to provide support for the Endline survey. Capacity building was also initiated through the development of the supply chain and training of the steel fabricator for manufacturing the PV and rain water harvesting canopy.

Further to this, February 2014 saw a workshop take place at Imperial College Business School that challenged students at that University to come up with socially and economically sustainable business models, drawing on the experiences of E4D and the projects business model tools.

The project in Kitonyoni has also seen many local and international visitors from Japan, Germany, UK, Zambia, the World Bank and other funding agencies. A database developed for the E4D Network is been augmented and the annual project leaflets produced and distributed to members. E4D organised a site visit to one of our mini grid projects for conference attendees and contributed to Panel contributor at the 3rd the International Off-Grid Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition (IOREC), Nairobi, Kenya (30 Sep to 1 Oct 2016). Further Workshop and dissemination events are being planned for the next period of the project.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Energy,Environment,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Retail,Security and Diplomacy

URL http://www.energyfordevelopment.net
 
Description A fundamental part of this programme is to enable the replication off-grid electrification projects, with each individual project learning from the previous ones and becoming self-reliant. Subsequent to the first completed 13.5kWp solar co-operatively run mini-grid installation in Kitonyoni (financed and implemented by the E4D programme) we have: -Welcomed to the Kitonyoni project many local and international visitors from Japan, Germany, UK, Zambia, the World Bank and other funding agencies, as standalone visits and also field trips as part of three international conferences held in Nairobi. - Completed four further mini-grid installations in partnership with the Rural Electrification Authorities of Kenya (Oloika, Shompole) and Uganda (Kanyegaramire, Kyamugarura), leveraging the knowledge gained from the Kitonyoni project. This included the training of Kenya personnel and a steel fabricator. Energy for Development designed the systems and provided the generation equipment, with funding coming from the respective countries for constructing the mini-grid. Energy for Development are monitoring the electricity demand data from these projects and providing ongoing support to the local operators. -Implemented a solar PV, 6 kWp standalone village centre and school projects in Bambouti, Cameroon. This included technology delivery, construction, commissioning and operation. The project is based on a community cooperative structure similar to that of Kitonyoni and was completed in September 2013. -Worked on the development of further 3 projects in Mozambique, Uganda and Zambia. The first two projects are supported by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), and the latter through a commercial activity. -E4D Network established, updates and project details circulated to all participants in the Network and plans for a meeting of the network members initiated.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Construction,Education,Energy,Environment,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Invited to contribute to Ministerial Roundtable: Catalysing off-grid renewable energy deployment - Towards universal electricity access and the attainment of SDGs by International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA, www.irena.org). Also to attend their Annual assembly as an observer Jan 14 - 15, 2017.
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description Invitee and contributor to Ministerial Conference: Italy-Africa: Working Together for a Sustainable Energy Future, Rome, Oct 2014
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Impact As a result of contribution, the EU asked Prof Bahaj to provide a framework on the approaches needed to speed up the uptake of rural electrification. This was submitted in December 2014 and is currently under review the responsible EU Directorate.
 
Description Invitee and contributor to the EU's Ministerial Meeting: Empowering Rural Electrification Workshop, Brussels, (Sep 2014).
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact As a result of contribution, the EU asked Prof Bahaj to provide a framework on the approaches needed to speed up the uptake of rural electrification. This was submitted in December 2014 and is currently under review the responsible EU Directorate.
 
Description Ministerial Roundtable: Catalysing off-grid renewable energy deployment - Towards universal electricity access and the attainment of SDGs by International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA, www.irena.org).
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
URL http://www.irena.org/events/2017/Jan/Ministerial-Roundtable-Catalysing-offgrid-renewable-energy-depl...
 
Description Efficient VERsatile Energy Services Solution Through DC - "EVERESST DC".
Amount £67,257 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/P032230/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2017 
End 03/2018
 
Description FORTIS UNUM: CLUSTERING MINI-GRID NETWORKS TO WIDEN ENERGY ACCESS AND ENHANCE UTILITY NETWORK RESILIENCE
Amount £1,019,193 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R030391/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2018 
End 04/2021
 
Description Energy for Development (E4d): The Importance of Communities Centric Mini Grids in Energy Access, Africa Renewable Energy Leaders' Summit 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Energy for Development (E4d): The Importance of Communities Centric Mini Grids in Energy Access, Africa Renewable Energy Leaders' Summit 4 - 5 April 2017 Nairobi, Kenya.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.africarenewablesummit.com/
 
Description Exhibited our research areas, especially those related to energy for development at Southampton West Quay Shopping Centre, Southampton, UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Exhibited our research areas, especially those related to energy for development at Southampton West Quay Shopping Centre, Southampton, UK. (March 2017)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.southampton.ac.uk/per/university/festival/index.page
 
Description Sustainable Energy Ecosystems International Conference (SEECON 2018), Cebu City, Philippines 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Researchers from the two collaborating institutions (Sustainable Energy Research Group (SERG) of the University of Southampton, and the Center for Research in Energy Systems and Technologies (CREST) of the University of San Carlos) presented key findings from the projects carried out under the Newton Fund, Institutional Links.
M.Alam presented his work about the role of solar photovoltaics in electricity access in rural communities and attracted the interest of government officials and representatives of international organisations. Discussions have started on opportunities to continue and expand the work undertaken under the Newton Fund.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://crest.org.ph/events/conferences/seecon2018/