We invited more than 20 students and young researchers from different disciplines to Kathmandu, Nepal and took a deep dive into the methods and concepts of transdisciplinary research. Here, participants share their experinces.
Central electric grids are mostly preferred in development agendas and mini-grid solutions receive too little attention? This upcoming webinar by HPNET will address this issue by showcasing mini-grids as a reliable and supplemental solution for electrification agendas! Register here now!
Although mini-grids are often boxed as a “pre-electrification” intervention, there is increasing evidence showing that mini-grids can achieve grid parity. Further, in countries that allow mini-grids to feed in electricity to the central grid, mini-grids have actually made the central grid more reliable!
Hydro mini-grids especially meet these scenarios, providing 24-hour reliable electricity, typically at lower LCOE and costs per kW than most other types of mini-grids, and leading to lower tariffs for rural consumers. Thereof, hydro mini-grids are generally financially viable for motorized loads (e.g. agri processing productive end use) and for feeding into the central grid.
Despite their obvious advantages, in most developing contexts decentralized renewable energy mini-grids continue to be framed as “pre-electrification” solutions at par with solar home lighting, or “not as important as the central grid.” Often mini-grid development is housed in a separate and less influential ministry, while the central grid authorities have ultimate power and financial resources. Such a fragmented approach leads to:
- Redundant electrification interventions, and therefore wasteful use of funding resources;
- Confusion on timing of arrival of the central grid, which severely hampers the scale-up of mini-grids;
- Abandoned mini-grids and loss of investment upon the arrival of a reliable central grid;
- Business-as-usual of an intermittently reliable central grid, typically powered by fossil fuels or large hydro, in today’s age of climate crisis.