Last week, through a Draft Mini Grid Regulation 2016, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) stated that electricity distribution companies could now use mini grids as a bridge technology to accelerate their electrification activities, reports the Financial Watch.
According to the media, the Commission said the mini grid regulation was specifically designed to fast-track electrification in areas without any existing distribution grid.
The regulation is also intended for areas with an existing but poorly electrified or non-functional distribution grid, such as rural areas, NERC stated.
“If the power distributed by the isolated mini grid is larger than 100kW, the mini grid developer will need to apply for a mandatory permit. If the generation capacity of the power station installed is larger than 1MW, the plant is not a mini grid under this regulation and other regulations apply,” NERC explained.
Media also reported that, to promote this initiative, the Commission indicated that cost-reflective retail tariffs would be utilised.
NERC, however, added that tariffs would be higher than the current electricity distribution company’s retail tariffs but also noted that the tariffs would be lower than any electricity supply of the same quality generated from conventional sources in such areas.
“This regulation is suitable for any business model or technology that mini grid operators may wish to implement,” the Commission said.
It added: “The Discos [distribution companies] stand to benefit from mini grid operations and some of these benefits include the development of the Discos’ licensing areas, which are not being exploited at no cost to the Discos pending when they are ready to extend their operations to such areas.
“At such time, demand would have increased to attractive levels for profitable operation, and customers will be used to paying for electricity and complying with the safety requirements.”
Meanwhile, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has launched a Green Mini Grid Help Desk to facilitate the provision of renewable power to rural African communities.
The GMG help desk was unveiled during the recent 3rd International Off-Grid Renewable Energy Conference held in Nairobi, Kenya.
The AfDB explained that, “The GMG Help Desk provides online technical assistance on the myriad of activities important to the business cycle of developing and operating a clean energy mini-grid.”
The Bank added that the help desk was part of the larger Green Mini Grid Market Development Programme implemented by the SE4All Africa Hub and funded through the AfDB’s Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa.
Dr Daniel-Alexander Schroth, coordinator of the SE4All Africa Hub, said: “mini-grids are a key piece of the energy access puzzle in Sub-Saharan Africa and the GMG Help Desk will be a key tool to accelerate the deployment of private sector-led mini-grid projects in support of the New Deal on Energy for Africa’s vision of universal energy access in Africa by 2025.”
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