MAR# 4: Smart grid (different scale) for off-grid application solutions

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Currently, more than 600 Million people in Africa do not have access to electricity, 80% of which live in rural areas. In addition to small stand‐alone systems for individual households and extensions of the national grid, there is a growing need for small‐ to medium-scale Distributed Generation (DG) solutions capable of integrating a diverse mix of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) for supply to small- and mediumsized communities. Increasing the attention of governments to regulated penetration of REs into the national grid will help overcome the dichotomy between centralized and decentralized electrification. Moreover, using hybrid solutions coupling different RES with conventional sources combines a bottom-up and top-down approach. Such solutions may contribute to an increase in the reliability of the power supply and reduced dependence on storage and fossil backup systems, thus also mitigating energy poverty. Hybrid and Smart RES Grids have a role in addressing the many technological challenges that may arise from the integration of different RE technologies, distribution, and storage systems.

Utilization of Hydrogen as a storage option instead of batteries is an option which require research and innovation actions.

These systems must be optimised and integrated to be able to respond to rapidly evolving energy needs. They can play a role addressing environmental challenges since they contribute to reducing local air pollution and GHGs emissions. If properly designed, they can also decrease energy‐water‐food competition by reducing reliance on traditional biomass and contributing to wise water management.

Furthermore, Smart and Hybrid Grids can respond to local socio‐economic challenges. They can be scaled‐up to meet growing demand, tailored to match productive uses in either agriculture or rural industries, and support community service delivery in education and health. With the deployment of appropriate business models, improved energy affordability may be achieved for local people and job opportunities may be created associated with manufacturing, installation and maintenance.

Capacity Building Focus

Across all these areas to be further researched technical and managerial competences and capacities need to be developed.

At individual level:

  • Researchers shall be involved in improving smart grid components, connections and management and all activities shall be programmed to ensure knowledge transfer and established standards for the smart grid system and components. Capacity building activities shall also aim at training of local electrical technicians: these trainings should be updated according to the research outputs so technicians’ competences address the needs of the communities in respect with the new technologies and uses provided by research. Likewise, capacity building activities shall as well target the triggering of behavioural changes to have energy access with reliable systems.

At institutional level:

  • Concerning infrastructures, activities and programmes shall be organised to establish and provide accreditation for laboratories to test smart grid systems.


• Development of new tools for optimizing capacity in planning and dispatching strategies based on people’s needs;

• Reduction of energy dependence on fossil fuel and increase in the share of RES;

• New open‐source code access for researchers worldwide.


Researcher capacity will be strengthened with holistic and multidisciplinary thinking and needed technical competences through capacity building. Additionally, increased awareness of people’s needs will support longer-term behaviour change;

• Research and related capacity building will be valorised as instrumental to the creation of native and local innovation and behavioural change;

• Technologies design will be increasingly people‐driven, increasing efficiency;

Local people and civil society will feel more engaged in the research‐innovation process;

• Private players will benefit from a new instrument for supporting sustainable business.


Increased energy access in rural areas and use of REs;

Improved living conditions and social inclusive growth in the local context;

• Improved economic development and promoting job creation in the local context.

Behavioural change as far as energy usages