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IRENA – the key role of renewable energy in meeting energy access goals

To achieve universal electricity access by 2030, the pace of expansion needs to at least double, and estimates suggest that off-grid solutions will provide roughly 60 per cent of the additional generation needed.

Renewables are now the default cost-competitive choice for off-grid installations, both stand-alone and mini-grids, in most rural and peri-urban areas. It’s estimated that as many as 350,000 mini-grids will be needed to achieve universal access in Africa — 60,000 to be deployed in West Africa alone by 2020.

IRENA has recently launched two reports highlighting recent and future renewable mini-grid technological innovations, and the policy and regulatory approaches that can further incentivise its deployment and help achieve universal energy access.

The Innovation Outlook: Renewable Mini-grid report finds that technology innovation, accompanied by innovation in business models and finance, will result in a 60 per cent decrease in the cost of producing electricity from renewable mini-grids in the next 20 years.  

However, mini-grid technology advancements can only be taken advantage of if the right policies and legislative incentives are in place. In Policies and Regulations for Private Sector Mini-grids, IRENA describes how regulatory measures, divided into three categories (primary, secondary, and tertiary), can increase mini-grid adoption with further engagement from the private sector.

All IRENA publications can be downloaded