Rocky Mountain Institute, REA to launch roadmap for electricity minigrid market

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), have set to release a first-of-its-kind, three-year roadmap for Africa on May 1, 2018. This will outlines how to achieve $0.20/kWh from electric minigrid technology by 2020. The roadmap will outline how much capital is required and a plan for transitioning funding from grants and high-risk concessional and government sources to venture capital and private equity.

RMI co-hosted a workshop last week to chart the path to unlocking the minigrid market in Nigeria, which would provide energy access to millions and tap into a multibillion-dollar opportunity. More than 50 industry leaders and experts attended the interactive work session focused on delivering a profitable and scalable minigrid market business model. Attendees included CrossBoundary, Global Environment Facility, IHS Towers, McKinsey & Company, Nayo Technologies, PowerGen, Rensource Distributed Energy, Rubitec Solar, SBM Intelligence, Shell and many others. At the workshop, market solutions centered on six key opportunity areas: grid-in-a-box hardware, better load management, effective customer engagement, efficient project development and operations and maintenance, affordable finance and supportive policy.

“Nigeria has all the right drivers to become a leader in the minigrid market in Africa: great entrepreneurial tradition, a large self-employed population and market size. I’m looking forward to seeing how entrepreneurs in Nigeria leverage this opportunity over the next few years,” said Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group and an RMI donor.

With a population of more than 180 million, Nigeria has the largest population and gross domestic product in Africa, with significant rural economic activity. Currently 85 million people do not have reliable access to electricity or are not connected to the grid. Minigrids provide an enormous investment opportunity as Nigerians already spend $14 billion annually on off-grid power from small 14 gigawatt gas generators, according to materials prepared for the workshop by RMI.

“The electricity market for off-grid energy in Nigeria is huge and profitable for developers. Installing 1,000 minigrids each year for the next 10 years would provide power to millions of Nigerians currently off-grid,”said Damilola Ogunbiyi, managing director and CEO of the Rural Electrification Agency.”

“I am excited and optimistic about cracking the minigrid challenge in Nigeria. Nigeria is blessed with some of the region’s most amazing entrepreneurs. We urge venture capitalists and impact investors from around the world to get involved with us,” said Jules Kortenhorst, chief executive officer of Rocky Mountain Institute.

RMI’s Sustainable Energy for Economic Development (SEED) program could not carry out this work without the generosity of the Rockefeller Foundation and Virgin Unite. Schneider Electric sponsored the workshop.