skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Can developing countries leapfrog the centralized electrification paradigm?

Abstract

Due to the rapidly decreasing costs of small renewable electricity generation 'systems, centralized power systems are no longer a necessary condition of universal access to modern energy services. Developing countries, where centralized electricity infrastructures are less developed, may be able to adopt these new technologies more quickly. We first review the costs of grid extension and distributed solar home systems (SHSs) as reported by a number of different studies. We then present a general analytic framework for analyzing the choice between extending the grid and implementing distributed solar home systems. Drawing upon reported grid expansion cost data for three specific regions, we demonstrate this framework by determining the electricity consumption levels at which the costs of provision through centralized and decentralized approaches are equivalent in these regions. We then calculate SHS capital costs that are necessary for these technologies provide each of five tiers of energy access, as defined by the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All initiative. Our results suggest that solar home systems can play an important role in achieving universal access to basic energy services. The extent of this role depends on three primary factors: SHS costs, grid expansion costs, and centralized generation costs. Given current technologymore » costs, centralized systems will still be required to enable higher levels of consumption; however, cost reduction trends have the potential to disrupt this paradigm. By looking ahead rather than replicating older infrastructure styles, developing countries can leapfrog to a more distributed electricity service model. (C) 2016 International Energy Initiative. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.« less

Authors:
;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
Georgia Institute of Technology
OSTI Identifier:
1392367
DOE Contract Number:  
AC02-06CH11357
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Energy for Sustainable Development; Journal Volume: 31; Journal Issue: C
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
distributed electrification; energy services; lighting; rural development; subsidy

Citation Formats

Levin, Todd, and Thomas, Valerie M. Can developing countries leapfrog the centralized electrification paradigm?. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.1016/j.esd.2015.12.005.
Levin, Todd, & Thomas, Valerie M. Can developing countries leapfrog the centralized electrification paradigm?. United States. doi:10.1016/j.esd.2015.12.005.
Levin, Todd, and Thomas, Valerie M. Fri . "Can developing countries leapfrog the centralized electrification paradigm?". United States. doi:10.1016/j.esd.2015.12.005.
@article{osti_1392367,
title = {Can developing countries leapfrog the centralized electrification paradigm?},
author = {Levin, Todd and Thomas, Valerie M.},
abstractNote = {Due to the rapidly decreasing costs of small renewable electricity generation 'systems, centralized power systems are no longer a necessary condition of universal access to modern energy services. Developing countries, where centralized electricity infrastructures are less developed, may be able to adopt these new technologies more quickly. We first review the costs of grid extension and distributed solar home systems (SHSs) as reported by a number of different studies. We then present a general analytic framework for analyzing the choice between extending the grid and implementing distributed solar home systems. Drawing upon reported grid expansion cost data for three specific regions, we demonstrate this framework by determining the electricity consumption levels at which the costs of provision through centralized and decentralized approaches are equivalent in these regions. We then calculate SHS capital costs that are necessary for these technologies provide each of five tiers of energy access, as defined by the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All initiative. Our results suggest that solar home systems can play an important role in achieving universal access to basic energy services. The extent of this role depends on three primary factors: SHS costs, grid expansion costs, and centralized generation costs. Given current technology costs, centralized systems will still be required to enable higher levels of consumption; however, cost reduction trends have the potential to disrupt this paradigm. By looking ahead rather than replicating older infrastructure styles, developing countries can leapfrog to a more distributed electricity service model. (C) 2016 International Energy Initiative. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.},
doi = {10.1016/j.esd.2015.12.005},
journal = {Energy for Sustainable Development},
number = C,
volume = 31,
place = {United States},
year = {Fri Apr 01 00:00:00 EDT 2016},
month = {Fri Apr 01 00:00:00 EDT 2016}
}