Decentralized renewable hybrid mini-grids for rural communities: Culmination of the IREP framework and scale up to urban communities
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The Integrated Rural Energy Planning (IREP) framework offers a unified road map for locating, planning and operating decentralized renewable hybrid off-grid energy systems for localized (rural) applications in low-income countries. This paper presents the culmination of the IREP framework and aims to illustrate the final step of the IREP framework for two communities in Nigeria. It is focused on two aspects. Firstly, the techno-economic modeling (investment and operation optimization) of a hybrid mini-grid system using HOMER Pro, a techno-economic evaluation tool; and evaluating the benefits of demand side management (DSM) based on energy efficiency on the overall system economics using a scenario-based approach. Secondly, the conceptualization of a sustainable business model using the business model canvas scheme to deliver measurable socio-economic impacts in these communities. The results provide valuable insights into rural electrification via renewable hybrid mini-grids powered primarily with solar photovoltaic technology. Transcending mere electricity access, electricity is provided for productive uses (considering disaggregated end-uses) by harnessing other dispatchable renewable energy resources such as waste biomass. Given high share of rural population in developing countries, these insights are applicable in these regions and further the realization of the United Nations' goal of sustainable energy (SDG7) and sustainable cities and communities (SDG11).