Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Outcomes from the Expert Group Meeting: Importance of mini-grid energy systems

Last week I had the pleasure to participate in an Expert Group Meeting on the potential of renewable energy options in off-grid areas in Africa held at ICS-UNIDO facilities in Trieste. The event had a special focus on the importance of mini-grid energy systems and was assisted by 20 participants from both developing countries and industrialized countries.

Main Topics

The main objectives of the meeting were:
  • Further investigate the feasibility and socio-economic impact of the uses of Renewable Energy Technologies (RET) as well as the technological challenges through a round table discussion.
  • Review, identify and select technologies and innovative solutions for decentralized energy production, mini-grid energy systems and the integration of renewable energy systems.
  • Discuss proposals for future initiatives to develop critical mass of locally-trained specialists in developing countries with the required technical skills.
  • Identify topics for training courses and capacity building activities including fellowships and selected host institutions for fellowship projects.
  • Discuss and select subject related papers on renewable energy options in remote areas in Africa for off-grid application and the importance of mini-grid integrated systems to be recommended for publishing or for further investigation.
One of the main conclusions I would highlight is that it is already time to move forward from pilot projects to commercial roll-out. And for this purpose, special attention should be given to the development of innovative and creative business models that along with stable and reliable regulatory frameworks can boost the deployment of renewable energy based decentralized solutions.

Of course there are still some challenges concerning the technical aspects that have to be addressed and require of further research such as load management (check this post) and grid integration. However, technology has reached a high level of maturity, so I am sure we can agree this is the moment to focus the efforts on economic and regulatory issues as mentioned above.

The complete package of presentations and recorded lectures can be downloaded from this link:

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