In rural areas worldwide, mini-grids are proving a viable alternative to grid extension. From remote villages in Tanzania to small islands in India, communities are gaining access to electricity for the first time through mini-grids. Case studies of successful mini-grids can help developers apply best practices to new projects.

The case studies in this toolkit showcase successful mini-grid projects in Afghanistan, India, Nepal and Tanzania. The projects use a range of different energy technologies: solar photovoltaic (PV) , hydropower , biomass , wind and hybrid systems. Ownership models vary, and project implementers include private companies, government agencies and non-profit organizations. Combinations of grants, loans , private capital and/or subsidies—often from both private and public sources—provide funding to these projects.

Despite different local contexts and technologies, the projects share a common set of strategies. These key drivers of success include community involvement, ongoing system maintenance, well-designed tariffs and flexibility. Successful projects gained support from the local community during the planning phase and involved community members throughout the project’s implementation. The mini-grids were well maintained by trained technicians, ensuring high-quality energy services over time. In addition, tariffs were established to cover the project’s ongoing costs, but that also remained affordable for local households. Effective managers demonstrated a readiness to adapt to challenges. With the right approach, both public and private entities can implement successful mini-grid projects that have wide-ranging benefits.

Island Mini-Grids in West Bengal

The West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency in India helped establish partnerships with local cooperatives to develop mini-grids for isolated island communities in the Sundarbans. Read more »

Biomass Gasification in India

In Bihar, India, non-profit organization, Decentralized Energy Systems of India, installs biomass gasification mini-grid systems for local economic development and to provide electricity to rural households and businesses. Read more »

Hydropowered Mini-Grids in Nepal

Nepal’s Alternative Energy Promotion Center, a government agency, uses a comprehensive subsidy program to help launch mini-grids that use renewable energy. Read more »

Hydropower in Tanzania’s Rural Highlands

The Mwenga Hydro and Rural Electrification Project in Tanzania’s Iringa region provides electricity to more than 2,200 consumers in 17 villages, a local tea and coffee factory and the national grid. Read more »

Rental Solar Power Systems in Tanzania

In rural Tanzania, Redavia Rental Solar Power, a private company, rents pre-assembled solar PV systems to local operators. Read more »

Adaptive Solar PV Mini-Grids in Tanzania

Devergy, an energy services company, uses adaptive PV-powered mini-grids with smart payment and monitoring technologies to electrify remote communities. Read more »