Workshop on Green Mini-grid Development in South Asia
28-31 May 2014

<< Back

Enabling energy supply to rural areas through mini-grid solutions for economic empowerment

As part of a series of workshops organised by the OASYS South Asia Project, TERI organised a Workshop on Green Mini-grid Development in South Asia, on May 28, 2014 at the United International University, Dhaka. This workshop, the 6th South Asia annual workshop of the multi-partners OASYS project, led by De Montfort University, was organised in collaboration with the Centre for Energy Research of United International University, on the occasion of the 3rd International Conference on the Developments in Renewable Energy Technology organised in Dhaka from May 29-31, 2014. The workshop, organised as a forum for cross learnings in the mini-grids sector for South-South cooperation, focused on examining the barriers and solutions to sustainable, large-scale implementation of green mini-grids in rural areas of developing regions to improve electricity access. The workshop saw active participation of over 70 stakeholders from the government, industry, financial institutions, regulatory bodies, academic, research institutions and practitioners from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Germany, United Kingdom and other countries.

Mr Debajit Palit presented the research objectives and outputs under the OASYS project to begin the proceedings. The keynote address was delivered by Prof Dr M Rezwan Khan, Vice Chancellor of United International University. Prof Khan in his presentation discussed the challenges and opportunities of solar mini-grids in Bangladesh and said that the renewable energy policy of Bangladesh should provide more focus on off-grid systems as its effect will reach the people in remote areas and can have tremendous impact on the rural economy. He also shared the critical aspects of AC and DC mini-grids and opined that DC mini-grids may be more appropriate as they are technically robust and cost-effective for scale-up.

The inaugural address was delivered by Mr Tapos Kumar Roy, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, Government of Bangladesh. He mentioned that solar mini-grids have been identified as one of the important utility scale interventions as part of the Bangladesh 500 MW solar power development programme. Bangladesh is also establishing the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority to pave the way for institutionalizing low carbon sector development. Mr Mahmood Malik, Executive Director and CEO, IDCOL in his special address mentioned that while IDCOL has been mainly supporting solar home systems and has financed more than 3 million systems, recently they have also started promoting installation of mini-grids in remote densely populated islands and has set a target to finance 50 mini-grids projects by the year 2017.

In the pre-lunch technical session, chaired by Prof. Amit Kumar from TERI University, presentations on lessons from green mini-grids experiences were made by TERI, New Delhi; Alternate Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC), Kathmandu; Prokaushali Sangsad Ltd (PSL)., Dhaka and Micro Energy International (MEI), Berlin. The session started with PSL sharing the experiences from Bangladesh’s first solar mini-grid project implemented in Sandwip Insland. Thereafter, AEPC shared the lessons from the small hydro power based mini-grids in Nepal and TERI discussed the Indian mini-grid experiences. The session ended with MEI introducing a concept called “swarm electrification”, which is a bottom-up approach of setting up mini-grids by connecting number of solar home systems in a cluster..

During the post lunch session on thematic discussion, Dr Peter Aldermann, Former CEO of Phocos AG and currently Professor of Energy at Ulm University, Germany, in his presentation highlighted the importance of batteries in mini-grid systems. Thereafter, Dr Peter Boait spoke on smart metering options for mini-grids and highlighted case examples of “grid-share” metering option and others state of art monitoring systems. Ms. Farzana Rahman, Head (RE Investment), IDCOL, detailed the mini-grid projects financed by IDCOL and shared some experiences from these projects.

The workshop concluded with the panel discussion on the theme “Scaling up green mini-grid projects in South Asia”, moderated by Mr Amit Kumar, with panelists from the Ministry of Power, The World Bank, International Finance Corporation, IDCOL and Rahimafrooz Renewables and, sharing their thoughts on the possible roadmap for scaling up of mini-grids in South Asia, especially Bangladesh, to cover the un-served population with reliable and affordable electricity access.

Mr Debajit Palit
Associate Director
The Energy and Resources Institute