Energy for Growth Hub
Op-Eds Feb 16, 2024

On the Role of Interconnected Mini-Grids in Net-Zero Emissions Electricity System: Insights from Nigeria

Shaping Energy Transitions

Originally published in Environmental Research Letters, Volume, 19, Number 3, February 16, 2024


As developing countries like Nigeria strive to reduce carbon emissions while expanding energy access, mini-grids’ role has gained recognition. However, limited analysis exists regarding the role of interconnected mini-grids (IMGs) in the transition to net-zero emissions electricity generation systems. Here, we employ a bottom-up energy system optimization modeling framework to explore the techno-economic implications of deploying IMGs in net-zero emissions electricity systems, using Nigeria as a case study. We find that IMGs can contribute to modest system-level cost reductions in net-zero emissions electricity systems. IMGs can help minimize stranded electricity generation assets and decrease the reliance on negative emissions technologies in scenarios aiming for net-zero emissions electricity systems by 2050. In scenarios where the net-zero target is delayed until 2070, the widespread deployment of comparatively affordable cleaner generators and the phaseout of fossil fuel power plants may render negative emission technologies unnecessary. The model results further indicate that IMGs can help reduce the use of captive diesel/gasoline gen-sets quickly, and nuclear power has a role in the electricity generation mix in all net-zero emissions scenarios. Moreover, in order to achieve the median per capita electricity consumption observed in high-income countries by the year 2050, Nigeria must undertake a formidable expansion of its current electricity generation capacity at a rate approximately six times greater than that dictated by a business-as-usual trajectory. The study also provides recommendations to address the policy, regulatory, and financial considerations crucial for implementing IMGs successfully.

Read the full paper here, or PDF here.