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Beyond Off-Grid: Integrating Mini-Grids with India’s Evolving Electricity System

Electricity is one of the most important drivers of socio-economic development, yet up to 250 million Indians are not connected to the national grid, and the majority of rural consumers have grossly unreliable power supply. More than solar lanterns and home systems that power a few lights and fans, among the most efficient ways to provide reliable electricity in remote areas is through local mini-grids. India has several run by energy service companies and usually funded by philanthropic capital.

Most of these enterprises have not been able to scale-up their impact meaningfully because the risk of the national grid entering their markets can render their mini-grid unviable. Rather than seeing “grid versus mini-grid” as a policy choice, Beyond Off-Grid: Integrating Mini-Grids with India’s Evolving Electricity System explores ways we can encourage more of both: to have the grid operate in partnership with a network of distributed mini-grids to accelerate electrification.

What does the roadmap for this ‘interconnection’ of our energy system look like? How can we leverage both government and private investment? What are the different interconnection models and their commercial, technical and regulatory implications? Where do mini-grids go from here? This timely report – commissioned by the Asha Impact Trust in collaboration with Shakti Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation – provides a multi-layered perspective to address these questions based on extensive research, wide-ranging policymaker interactions, and our investment experience evaluating mini-grid operators.