MES Mini-Grid Research Team

Figure 1 – Three-phase development of grid-connected autonomous micro-grids (DG = distributed generation).

Based on years of experience considering the unique perspective of microenergy systems, the MES Research Group has initiated a new team to enhance research work on the issue of mini-grids and electrification.

In order to overcome barriers in the rural electrification process,we advocate for combining effectiveaspects of user-centered and bottom-up approaches together with the benefits of mini-grid solutions. We envision a process-based approach beginning with the end-user, their current economic activities, and their existing sources and patterns of energy consumption.

The current research focuses on the details of this three-phase-development process that we call “swarm electrification” (Figure 1). Rather than starting with large injections of international donor funding or government subsidies to pursue a capital intensive implementation of a centrally planned mini-grid or the extension of central grid infrastructure, the process should begin with the bottom-up financing of end-users and communities themselves. These individual nodes will not only beconsumers of the electricity supply, rather they will also play an active role in the production of electricity, thereby moving away from the role of purely passive consumers towards that of prosumers in an active distribution network.  Finally, the existence of a flexible and scalable active network would encourage and enable an eventual connection to other micro-grids or even to central grid infrastructure.

Team: Brian Edlefsen Lasch, Hannes Kirchhoff and Joseph Theune

Contact of the Mini-Grid Research Team:

Brian Edlefsen Lasch