Insight Brief – Solutions for the Missing Middle: The Case for Large-Scale Mini-Grid Development

At a Glance

Publication Date September 2017
Format pdf
Countries Fiji, Indonesia, Vanuatu
Thematic Areas Sustainable Energy, Cross Cutting

“Solutions for the Missing Middle” demonstrates how mini grids powered by solar photovoltaics (PV) and energy storage systems (ESS) can provide energy access to 800 million people who do not live near a centralized electric grid. Solar PV plus ESS mini grids occupy the “missing middle” between smaller-scale off-grid solutions that provide limited energy services and expensive centralized grid extensions.

Currently, diesel mini grids are the most prevalent energy services solution in remote areas and small islands. However, due to technological advances and market forces, the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for solar PV plus ESS mini grids is now cost-competitive with diesel mini grids, grid extensions, and smaller-scale off-grid systems. Furthermore, this Insight Brief make the economic and environmental case for solar PV plus ESS mini grids and offers recommendations for how governments, project developers, utilities, and other stakeholders can rapidly develop the energy access market and the 250 GW “technology switching” market for solar PV-diesel hybrid mini grids.

In Indonesia, GGGI is structuring and leading the planning and development of one such solar PV development program to demonstrate a commercially viable business model for solar power for remote islands; in another such example GGGI is leading the development of solar PV project in the island of Taveuni – Fiji to achieve 65% renewable Electricity generation in the region. In Vanuatu, GGGI has partnered with UNDP to accelerate rural electricity access through solar PV project development.

This Insight Brief has some good content for the mini-grid market development. Whether we meet a developer, engage with the parties interested in energy access, or want to find out more about the opportunity in large scale mini-grid development, the publication gives a good insight of how mini-grid development can be achieved and where are the low hanging fruits.