Events for May 2024

Exploring models for public-private collaboration in clean energy access

Exploring models for public-private collaboration in clean energy access 2560 1707 aflp

Exploring models for public-private collaboration in clean energy access

On the 8th September 2023, the African Climate Action Partnership (AfCAP) together with Camco, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), Growing Government Engagement in Energy Access (GGEEA) and African Association for Rural Electrification (CLUB-ER) hosted an official side session entitled “Exploring models for public-private collaboration in clean energy access” during Africa Climate Week. This session explored the key enabling mechanisms that facilitate mini-grid deployment as well as focusing on the challenges and successes experienced by both the private and public sector in aligning priorities and actions.

Steven Payma (RREA Liberia) kicking off the official AfCAP side session at Africa Climate Week 2023

The first part of the session focused on how the public sector is working towards increasing energy access in Africa , the acceleration of the deployment of mini-grids and the current challenges and opportunities that African countries face when it comes to electrifying rural areas using Kenya and Liberia as examples.  The panel discussion kicked off with Steven Payma from the Rural and Renewable Energy Agency in Liberia (RREA). Payma explained that REA in Liberia has attracted their private sector to invest into the public by enabling policy and regulation environment partnerships in the public-private sector for clean energy access in Liberia.  Payma, indicated that Liberia’s National Electrification Strategy targets are set to achieve universal access to energy by 2030. So far, 30% of Liberia’s population in urban areas have access to electricity and only 8% of rural areas have access to electricity.  Payma explained that Liberia has both solicited and unsolicited projects running with the involvement of the private sector.  He noted that it is key to involve the private sector to attract investment in order to increase energy access and create an enabling policy and regulatory environment. A key message coming out from his discussion was that the national energy utility needs to be unbundled and the sector needs to open up to independent power producers. Such public-private collaborations would support clean , universal energy access.

Eng. Maxwell Ngala (REREC, Kenya)  during the AfCAP official side session at Africa Climate Week 2023

The second speaker was Eng. Maxwell Ngala from the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation of Kenya  (REREC). Ngala was tasked with explaining the current challenges to electrifying rural areas in Kenya and what the opportunities are for mini-grids in aiding the achievement of this target.  Ngala explained that REREC has a pilot project running in the area of Kenya, called Wajiha. This project has rolled-out 35 mini-grids through mission projects. Ngala indicated that the main challenges faced are technical, institutional and financial. When it comes to planning and the deployment of mini-grids, it’s important to understand the available technologies and to determine which are the most suitable for the context to meet the needs of the local community, Ngala explained.

Ieva Indriunaite (Camco) speaking during AfCAP’s official side session at Africa Climate Week 2023

The discussion shifted towards the private sector. This portion of the panel discussion focused on exploring options for improved collaboration, specifically on how the private sector can act as an implementing partner in realising governments’ NDC targets.  Ieva Indriunaite from Camco kicked off this part of discussion by explaining the challenges Camco experienced in funding viable mini-grid projects.

Indriunaite explained that when it comes to the gaps in energy access and viability for climate finance the key challenge is limited access to funding which makes scaling a challenge for the continent. Indriunaite expressed that inorder to enable the large-scale deployment of mini-grids, it requires blended finance. Attracting private sector funding requires regulatory frameworks that are clear, transparent and implemented in a timely manner to de-risk financing.  A key message from Indriunaite, is that governments should view mini-grid developers as partners, not as competitors. The private sector can mobilise solutions quickly and these solutions can be integrated into national grids and taken over by the public sector at a later stage.

The next speaker was Aaron Leopold from EnerGrow. Leopold shared some of his experiences of what enables effective collaboration with the public sector. He was in agreement with Indriunaite’s statement to not only involve the private sector in the later stages of the national plan for mini-grid deployment. Leopold explained there is a need for collaboration between the public and private sector at the start of the design process.  He indicated that Energrow works to accelerate electrification by looking at the demand side. The organisation looks at how to improve energy demand in rural communities so that mini-grid companies can improve their tariff. A key takeaway message from Leopold was that there is a need to find creative ways to collaborate in the public-private partnerships to support mini-grids, for example, micro-financing and engaging with consumers to understand what they need in their localised contexts.

Aaron Leopold (EnerGrow)  during the AfCAP official side session at Africa Climate Week 2023

Our last speaker for the panel discussion was Suleiman Babamanu from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). Babamanu shared his insights on how the RMI aimed to support the transformation of energy systems in Africa and what steps they are taking to enable greater private sector investment. He noted that it is possible to enable greater private sector investment by linking energy access to economic development which remains a challenge for Nigeria. Babamanu explained that RMI does collaboration through understanding the context of the country. For example,  Nigeria works on 2 main pillars; 1) Scaling and distributing energy resources, and 2) Deploying efficient demands for productive use. Babamanu indicated that the African Mini-grid Programme (AMP) aims to ensure that government and private developers are working together to create an enabling environment to ensure the transformation of energy systems and greater private sector investment through applying cost reduction techniques and innovative businesses.

Suleiman Babmanu (RMI) ending off the AfCAP official side session at Africa Climate Week 2023

In closing,  the panellists had an opportunity to give their final reflections on how we can align the priorities of the public and private sector when it comes to energy access. Ngala shared his thoughts and expressed that it is important for the private and public sectors not to work in silos. Indriunaite explained that the private sector lacks accessibility to planning and national planning documents. She felt that it should not be seen as a competition between the private and public sector as both sectors have a common goal of providing energy access to all.  Ngala, agreed with Indriunaite on the lack of access to information and data and stated that local data needs to be generated and accessible to both public and private users to enable planning for mini-grids in Africa.

AfCAP aims to continue engagements around creating enabling environments for mini-grid deployment through the Africa Mini-Grid Community of Practice (AMG-CoP) and the Growing Government Engagement in Energy Access (GGEEA) project. If you would like more information on these activities please contact us on

This activity was co-funded by AfCAP and GGEEA. GGEEA is funded with UK aid from the UK government via the Transforming Energy Access programme.

WEBINAR: Assessing Opportunities for Agricultural Productive Uses of Energy in Sub-Saharan Africa: Development of a New Geospatial Mapping Tool

WEBINAR: Assessing Opportunities for Agricultural Productive Uses of Energy in Sub-Saharan Africa: Development of a New Geospatial Mapping Tool 1334 751 aflp

On 25 March, the AfLP AMG-CoP in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL) hosted a webinar on a new geospatial mapping tool. This webinar was the third in a  series of regional learning events focused on analysis of opportunities for agricultural productive uses of energy in minigrids. The first webinar focused on introducing the over all context of the project, and the second focused on techno-economic analysis of potential renewable energy microgrids. 

This webinar presented the methodology used to estimate the geospatial distribution of prospective agricultural PUE loads, and introduced a new mapping tool developed by NREL to visualize PUE demand across Africa in order assist developers, planners, policymakers and others in understanding where and what PUE opportunities may be of highest priority.

Project Background and Objectives

Use of advanced energy technologies for agricultural production has multiple benefits including: 1) Intensifying production and reducing land-use pressure on related deforestation and biodiversity loss; 2) Strengthening agricultural income and employment in rural areas and allowing for more production near the home, which has particular value to women; 3) Enabling production of high nutrition and high value crops which tend to require more processing and irrigation supported by distributed renewable power; 4) Improving access to reliable energy sources to support irrigation and other productive uses such as cold storage or transportation of food; 5) Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) and other air pollutant emissions and their resulting impacts on the community and environment; and 6) Beneficial use of food waste products for energy generation.

Within this context, the U.S. Department of State is supporting the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to implement the Clean and Advanced Technologies for Sustainable Landscapes (CTSL) Program in Africa and Southeast Asia. This program seeks to:

  • Increase access to advanced, clean, reliable, and affordable energy sources to improve agricultural productivity, food and water security, and enable resilience
  • Accelerate progress toward development and economic growth and stability goals
  • Increase in-country technical and analytical capacity to support transition to self-reliance

Over the last year this program has been providing technical assistance to three countries in Africa—Zambia, Kenya and Mozambique—to develop methodologies and approaches to assess opportunities for agricultural productive uses of energy to help improve viability of clean energy minigrids. The CTSL is now excited to partner with the Africa LEDS Partnership to odder regional peer learning on this project and the methodologies being developed to a broader network of interested country stakeholders.

View presentations here. You can also watch a recording of the webinar via this link.

Photo of an energy storage system

Opportunities Abound for the Government of Malawi to Attract Investment in RE+Storage Projects

Opportunities Abound for the Government of Malawi to Attract Investment in RE+Storage Projects 1024 512 KM

This blog post was written by Dr David Jacobs and Toby Couture, who supported the LEDS GP with this technical assistance.

View the full report here.

The market for grid-scale battery storage technologies is booming worldwide with the growing awareness of the many benefits and services that batteries can provide.

Many government and utility officials around the world continue to think of battery storage simply as a form of storage that can be “filled up” and “drawn down” as needed in order to adjust to changing patterns of power demand. However, as experience with battery storage systems grows in markets ranging from California and South Australia to India and China, a more multi-faceted view of the role of grid-scale battery storage is emerging.

Battery storage systems can help make the outputs of solar and wind powerplants more predictable and reliable, whilst also providing a wide range of services to the grid, including frequency response, voltage control, and primary and secondary reserve (see figure below).

Figure: Overview of the functions of battery storage (Source: Adapted from IRENA 2020. “Electricity Storage Valuation Framework: Assessing system value and ensuring project viability”, International Renewable Energy Agency, Abu Dhabi.)

Moreover, battery storage can help reduce curtailment, providing benefits both to renewable energy (RE) producers, as well as to utilities (IRENA, 2019).

A flurry of recent auction results of solar+storage systems shows that the economics of combining renewable energy projects with storage (RE+storage) are now attractive in a growing number of countries around the world.

Recent auction results for RE+storage projects show unsubsidized prices for solar+storage in particular between USD 4-8 cents/kWh, as seen in India’s recent auction for “round the clock” power supply (see Table below) (Gupta, 2021).

Jurisdiction (Year of entry-into-service)Project DetailsPrice ($/kWh)Contract length
India “Round-the-clock” auction (2021-22)400MW firm capacity, including solar, wind, and storageUSD $0.04/kWh25 years
Australia (2017; expanded in 2020)Hornsdale Power Reserve: 315MW of wind power with 130MW/129MWh of battery storageUSD $0.055 – 0.066/kWh10 years
Florida (late 2021)Manatee Energy Storage Center: 409MW of solar PV + 900MWh of battery storageN/A (utility-owned)N/A (utility-owned)
Chile (2021 – 2023)Engie Chile:1500MW of renewables with storage in time-differentiated blocks with solar+storage:USD $0.024/kWh40-year concession agreement
Portugal (2021-2022)483MW of solar PV + storageUSD $0.04/kWh15 years
Israel (2022)168MW of solar PV + storageUSD $0.058/kWh23 years

As the economics continue to improve, some jurisdictions with high and growing shares of variable RE, such as Hawaii, have even announced that all future procurements of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy will be combined with storage (Colthorpe, 2021). While this may not be feasible or necessary for jurisdictions like Malawi, it underscores the scale of the transformation that has taken place in the costs of RE+storage in recent years.

A recent analysis, prepared for the Government of Malawi as part of the support provided by the LEDS GP, provides an overview of the main uses for which the Government of Malawi can procure battery storage systems. The analysis focuses on five main functions, or use cases:

  1. Replacing firm, fossil fuel-based generation capacity
  2. Delivering power during peak hours
  3. Reducing the curtailment of variable renewable energy (VRE) resources
  4. Providing ancillary services
  5. Deferring transmission and/or distribution grid investments

This analysis also highlights some of the key lessons in auction design from which countries like Malawi can draw in order to design and implement their own RE+storage auctions.

While auctions designed for battery storage share several features with regular RE auctions, there are certain aspects that need to be taken into consideration, including establishing clarity over what exactly is being auctioned, what level of availability the RE+storage installations need to provide, and whether any locational or other restrictions apply.

This brief report is intended to help governments like Malawi procure RE+storage projects in the coming years to help meet their overall energy access and climate-related objectives. This way, even relatively small countries with limited grid interconnections with their neighbouring countries can move towards high shares of renewables, thus paving the way for faster and more secure decarbonization of the electricity system in the coming decades.


Watch this Webinar: Powering Jobs

Watch this Webinar: Powering Jobs 607 384 aflp

Watch this Webinar: Powering Jobs

The off-grid renewable energy industry not only has the potential to connect close to one billion people to clean energy sources and unlock socio-economic potential in so doing, but is also expected to create approximately 4.5 million jobs globally by 2030. Job creation is critical, especially at a time when unemployment has reached record highs across the African continent. To create this magnitude of job opportunities, informed policy interventions are needed. We must better understand the skills required for delivering energy access and leveraging this access for productivity.

In this webinar, Rebekah Shirley from Power for All takes us through the findings from the Powering Jobs campaign, which analyses the energy workforce of the future.

This webinar took place on Tuesday, 6 October 2019.

Speaker biography

Named Africa Utility Week’s 2018 Outstanding Young Leader in Energy, Dr. Rebekah Shirley is the Chief Research Officer at Power for All, where she works to improve access to high-quality data and insights for the energy sector. Her work explores models for integrated energy planning and opportunities for catalyzing decentralized energy markets in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Rebekah earned her PhD from the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley, where she also obtained her MSc in Civil Engineering. She has over 11 years of experience in research, analysis and knowledge management. Rebekah is a University of California Chancellor’s Fellow and has won grants from institutions such as the Department of Energy, the Mott Foundation, and the Rainforest Foundation. She currently resides in Nairobi, Kenya, where she is a Visiting Research Fellow at Strathmore University.

Download Rebekah’s presentation

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