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Title: Can developing countries leapfrog the centralized electrification paradigm?

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. Furthermore, by looking ahead rather than replicating older infrastructure styles, developing countries can leapfrog to a more distributed electricity service model.« less
 [1] ;  [2]
  1. Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Lemont, IL (United States)
  2. Georgia Inst. of Technology, Atlanta, GA (United States)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Energy for Sustainable Development
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 31; Journal Issue: C; Journal ID: ISSN 0973-0826
Research Org:
Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation (NSF); USDOE
Country of Publication:
United States
29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY, AND ECONOMY; Decentralized electrification; Global energy access; Grid extension; International energy development; Solar home system
OSTI Identifier: