Hybrid mini-grids for rural electrification in Mozambique

In Mozambique less than 10% of the population has access to electricity compared to the African average of 30%. The majority of the electricity from the main grid is generated by hydro power (Cahora Bassa) and coal and gas exploration are on-going on a massive scale. However several studies have shown that an extension of the electricity network to large parts of rural areas is not economically possible and will not happen in the next 25 years. A significant part of the rural population will remain dependent on isolated systems generating electricity.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

FUNAE Fundo de Energia (Mozambican National Energy Fund) has made significant investments in stand-alone systems such as solar home systems and diesel systems coupled with mini local networks to tackle this. By the end of 2014, there are more than 2,000 individual systems in schools, administrative buildings and shops installed. Also, approximately 50 mini networks were installed in rural centres.

However the sustainability of these mini-networks based on diesel engines is a major issue. There is the high cost of the fuel and the transport of this fuel to the location, furthermore there is pollution, gas emissions and leaks fuel systems etc.

Therefore FUNAE is looking for sustainable solutions based on renewable energy to deliver affordable energy in these communities. As joint effort with Flanders Investment and Trade, 3E was contracted to investigate further five promising areas (most on the coast) to implement mini-grids on renewable energies.

This project is a first step of the process of implementing renewable energy in the country which will make the country less dependent on imported oil and secure electricity supply. Future energy production will be a mix of renewable and traditional energy sources and will imply modern energy management systems.

The objective of the study is to work out a feasibility study for a number of pilot hybrid projects and develop a methodology for future projects. More specific the following activities are foreseen:

  • A detailed study of the resources (wind and solar) variability and balance with load demand.
  • A study into a sustainable management model (technical, maintenance, training, economic) for the hybrid renewable energy systems under study;
  • An inventory of best practices in the Sub Saharan region to regulate stand-alone hybrid renewable energy systems
  • A study into the options for the Mozambique Government to attract (partial) private funding for financing stand-alone hybrid systems
  • An exchange visit and associate training by relevant Flemish expertise institutes / companies