In collaboration with the Technology&Design Team.

SELCO Solar and other social enterprises have demonstrated the suitability of solar home lighting systems for the energy requirements of communities in Karnataka and South India since 1995. In contrast to this, the mini-grids model is not yet proven in our geographical area of work. However the model is recognized internationally as having good potential to provide for the energy needs of off-grid communities, or those with highly unreliable grid power. The Foundation is therefore investigating the potential of mini grids in South India, with a longer-term view of having a wider impact in the rest of the country.

Approach

The Foundation is looking for the best technical and financial models for mini-grids, considering the particular requirements of a community and geographical constraints. We are in the process of piloting mini-grids in some communities. This is teaching us the on-the-ground challenges of implementing a mini-grid.

Impact

The whole investigation aims to determine when and where mini-grids could be a better option than individual solar systems, and to test the technology needed. If a situation arises in which a mini-grid is most suitable, a tested model should be available for implementation. There is the potential of a mini-grid to fill the gap where end-user financing is not available, or to provide for any higher power load requirements the community may have.

A sketch of a mini-grid, with centralised generation and storage.