Scaling-up the development of and investment in mini/micro-grids is necessary to achieve energy access goals. While the engineering principles of mini-grids are well-established, the lack of standards plus uncertainty about quality and safety results in a high-risk perception.
The Quality Assurance Framework (QAF) for mini-grids was developed to address the root challenges to providing safe, high-quality, and financially viable mini-grid power systems to remote customers. It is focused on two key frameworks:
- Level of service framework: Defines a range of service levels that ensure safe, quality, and affordable delivery of energy.
- Accountability and performance reporting framework: Provides a clear process of validating power delivery by providing trusted information to customers, funders, and/or regulators.
The QAF provides a flexible alternative to rigid top-down standards for mini-grids in energy access contexts and reflects the range of service levels required to meet the needs of various segments of the off-grid consumer base safely and affordably. In addition, data generated through implementation of the QAF will provide the foundation for comparisons across projects, assessment of impacts, and greater confidence that will drive investment and scale-up in this sector.
Watch a Webinar about the QAF
The QAF was developed in partnerships between the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Power Africa, and the Clean Energy Ministerial’s Global Lighting and Energy Access Partnership (Global LEAP).
Power Africa’s Beyond the Grid Program is supporting the development of further QAF products such as an implementation guide along with technical assistance to apply the QAF. Beyond the Grid leverages Power Africa’s innovative transaction-focused model to galvanize collaboration, engage in critical actions to accelerate transactions, and drive systemic reforms to facilitate future investment specifically relating to off-grid and small-scale energy. Beyond the Grid is accelerating off-grid electricity access, focusing on two strategic priorities – household solar and micro-grids – to add 25-30 million new connections by 2030, in support of achieving the overall Power Africa goal of adding 60 million new home and business connections.
- Full QAF Report: Quality Assurance Framework for Mini-Grids:
The full QAF report defines a range of service levels that ensure safe, quality, and affordable delivery of energy and provides a clear process of validating power delivery by providing trusted information to customers, funders, and/or regulators.
- QAF Background: Fact Sheet and QAF Presentation:
The fact sheet and presentation provided an overview of the information provided in the Quality Assurance Framework for Mini-Grids.
- Implementation Guide for Isolated Community Power Systems:
This implementation guide includes a detailed overview of the QAF and provides guidance focused on the implementation of the QAF from the perspective of the different stakeholders that are commonly part of a mini-grid project.
- Tariff Considerations for Micro-Grids in sub-Saharan Africa:
This report discusses of some of the key drivers and considerations that policymakers and decisionmakers face when deciding if and how to regulate electricity tariffs for micro-grids.
- Productive Use of Energy in African Micro-Grids: Technical and Business Considerations:
This report is a resource entrepreneurs and developers can use to understand the technical and business model challenges related to productive use of energy in smaller micro-grids, focusing on small agricultural processing, and small industrial and commercial loads.
- Customer Agreement Considerations for Mini-Grids in Sub-Saharan Africa
This report discusses one dimension of building bankable micro-grid investments: the customer agreement between the developer and the customers the micro-grid will serve.
- Microgrid Load and LCOE Modelling Results
This article reviews trends for micro-grid tariffs in Sub-Saharan Africa from two perspectives: guidelines for setting tariffs and methods for structuring tariffs.
- Tariff Structures to Encourage Micro-Grid Deployment in Sub-Saharan Africa: Review and Recent Trends
This article is designed to inform high-level thinking around micro-grid load and tariff considerations in sub-Saharan Africa
- Financial and Operational Bundling Strategies for Sustainable Micro-grid Business Models
This report, which includes two case studies, reviews the main elements of micro-grid business and financing models, and examines areas of operational bundling to improve the viability of micro-grid developers and their projects.
- Survey Use in Micro-Grid Load Prediction, Project Development, and Operations: Review and Best Practices
This study identifies best practices for survey use during micro-grid development and operation. It also reviews what survey questions are good predictors of consumption based on operational data from 1000 microgrid customers in Tanzania.
- Comparative Study of Technoeconomics of Lithium-ion and Lead-acid Batteries in Microgrids in Sub-Saharan Africa
This report fills gaps in understanding the role that batteries and battery behavior play in micro-grid operations and economics. It combines thermal modeling, battery degradation, and techno economic analysis to develop a comprehensive understanding of battery selection decisions for microgrids.
Ask an Expert: QA Framework and Implementation
Ian Baring-Gould and other experts can provide no-cost technical assistance to developing country governments to implement the QA framework. To get started with an expert, please complete the request form.