System interconnection as a path to bottom up electrification

Bowes, Jonathan and Booth, Campbell and Strachan, Scott (2017) System interconnection as a path to bottom up electrification. In: 52nd International Universities' Power Engineering Conference, 2017-08-29 - 2017-09-01, T.E.I. of Crete.

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Electricity access is a key enabling factor for human development, yet over 1.2 billion people have no connection. Minigrids, grid extension and standalone systems are the standard approaches to electrification, but each have significant limitations, including cost of energy, speed of deployment and lack of flexible upgrade paths. Interconnection of minigrids and Solar Home Systems (SHS) to allow import and export of energy can address many of these issues. Increased diversity can reduce the impacts of variable renewable energy resources and incremental investment over time can facilitate a flexible, bottom up route to universal electrification. This paper discusses the issues surrounding the existing approaches to electrification in developing countries and outlines the opportunities for minigrid interconnection as a method to accelerate electricity access in a sustainable, cost effective and future proof manner.