Rural Electrification Resources

Rural electrification is a means to economic development and sanitary improvement. Currently, about 22% of the world’s population is without electricity, and 85% of individuals without electricity live in rural areas. Countries have employed an array of mandates, incentives, and deployment programs to accelerate rural electrification. This page presents technical resources that policymakers can use to inform the design and implementation of policies and programs to advance deployment of technologies such as photovoltaic systems, wind energy, hydropower, hydrogen, and hybrid systems.

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Featured Resources

United Nations

The Energy Costing Tool is an Excel-based model designed to help countries estimate the costs of increasing access to energy services to support the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MGD). More information is available on the Energy Access for Poverty Reduction and on MDG Support Services Web pages.

The World Bank

The World Bank's Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) launched the Lighting Africa initiative to provide up to 250 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa with access to affordable off-grid lighting. Policymakers can use resources on the Lighting Africa website to learn about product quality assurance, market intelligence, consumer education, access to finance, and policy studies.

International Energy Agency

This international database facilitates the development of new small hydro projects of more than 50 kilowatts and less than 10 megawatts installed capacity. The resource provides information including data for potential and developed sites, geographic information system (GIS) searching capabilities, country profiles, and international contacts for small hydro. Users may also review guidance on planning, developing, and operating small hydro projects.

Rural Living Canada

This website is a compendium of Canadian non-urban energy access resources and websites since 1998. The website lists several resources for rural communities that cover more than just energy related technologies or topics.

Alliance for Rural Electrification

This report is a collection of case studies that highlight replicable best practices in the use of renewable energy for rural electrification. Examples cover a wide range of technologies, locations, financial support mechanisms, and consumer-tariff schemes.

United States Agency for International Development

This document is a resource for health professionals seeking either to electrify health facilities that lack power or to ensure uninterrupted power for facilities connected to unreliable power grids. It provides information to assess energy systems with a focus on appropriate solutions and special considerations for off-grid rural hospitals and health centers.

United Nations
German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

This report examines the gap between access to modern energy and small-scale finance, and it focuses on the role of governments in bridging the gap. The report highlights the experiences of Burkina Faso, Kenya, Nepal, and Tanzania, and it recommends priority actions to be taken by governments.

German Association for International Cooperation
German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

This report focuses on the role that modern energy services play in enhancing the agriculture value chain, from production to commercialization, as well as transport of goods. The report examines the potential of decentralized power production with renewable energy or hybrid systems in rural areas, and it suggests farmers manage risk by buying energy services on a fee-for-service basis.

Asian Development Bank

This short project summary includes project design, results framework, and lessons learned from a revolving fund created to support grid connections for poor households in Sri Lanka through "microlending."

International Energy Agency

This report analyses the rural electrification policies of Brazil, China, South Africa and India to help guide policy makers in developing an effective rural electrification plan. The document outlines the different paths that each country took to achieve their goals of rural electrification. The geographic scope of the case studies was limited, but the lessons learned can be applied in any location where rural electrification is a goal.

United Nations

This report examines the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of power sector reforms with respect to their sustainability. It focuses on legal and institutional factors, and on how they interact with private market forces. Recommendations include sequencing policy and market reforms, linking electrification policy targets to market mechanisms, strengthening regulatory agencies, and developing small-scale electricity generation.

African Development Bank

This summary provides an overview of Morocco's Renewable Energy and Global Rural Electrification Project, which focused on on-grid wind and hydropower. Key elements of the assessment summary are a description of the project's legal and institutional framework (including key stakeholders), the impact and proposed mitigation measures for each sub-project, and the environmental management plan.

Asian Development Bank

This case study highlights the success of Viet Nam in raising electrification rates from 2.5% of households in 1975 to 96% of households in 2009. The study outlines steps taken by the Vietnamese government to prioritize rural electrification and discusses key factors contributing to success.

United States National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Renewable energy represents an area of tremendous opportunity for India, and this report discusses the ways in which India has already supported the growth of renewable energy technologies and the impact this has had on utilization of various technologies. The report is meant for those who want to better understand the role renewable energy has had to date in India and the policies that have been implemented to support renewable energy deployment.

Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century

This report provides an overview of the status of renewable energy markets, investment flows, industry trends, and rural renewable energy. The report focuses on the policy landscape at the national and local levels, as well as complementary policies, to incentivize the adoption of renewable energy.

Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei
United Nations Industrial Development

This report examines the growth rates of energy infrastructure and the rising demand in order to find a path to universal energy access by 2030. According to the report, the annual growth rate required to meet this goal is around 13%, which is substantially higher than the historical growth rate of 1.7%. The report outlines energy planning techniques currently in use and some new strategies and shortcuts that can make the process faster. It concludes that to spur the large growth required to reach the universal energy access goal, a few large projects like the 40-gigawatt Grand Inga hydroelectric project must be started so markets can gain momentum.

Institute for Solar Energy

This report uses a case study of microgrid deployment at Kythnos island in Greece to provide insight into the potential of using microgrids or distributed generation technologies to support the electrification of small islands.

United Nations
Policy Innovation Systems for Clean Energy Security

This report focuses on the impacts that different types of local level bioenergy initiatives—including bioresources, bioresidues, and biofuels—can have on rural livelihoods in different contexts in the developing world. The report is based on a series of 15 international case studies.

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit

This discussion paper discusses barriers and potential policies to support small hydropower in Sub-Saharan Africa, including institutional arrangements, tariff structures, service standards, entry requirements, and subsidies and incentives. The paper also evaluates the potential of small hydropower as well as existing projects, laws and regulations, and financing options for select countries.