Mini-grids, small community-based power plants and distribution systems, could provide more than 40% of the connections needed to deliver clean power to the world’s 1 billion people who still don’t have access to reliable electricity.

Microgrids have the ability to drive comprehensive self-generated economic development in communities.

Yet mini-grids are still a mini-blip when it comes to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) — universal access to modern, clean, affordable and reliable energy by 2030. The mini-grid sector is still dealing in tens of mini-grids per year, not hundreds or thousands. And even that is a long way from the target of 10,000 minigrids in India by 2021, and the need for 100,000 in Africa by 2040.

Now, major utilities and energy equipment suppliers are entering the market and bankers are starting to mobilize the capital needed to finance the systems. Major European utilities like Engie, E.ON, Enel, EDF and multinationals such as Caterpillar and Mitsui are starting to ramp up their mini-grid investments as well, which should help to attract more commercial finance on the back of their strong balance sheets.

Read the full article by Willie Brent at ImpactAlpha