Humboldt State University

Schatz Energy Research Center


A village wired with a mini-grid in Bhutan.

A mini-grid is a village-scale electrical distribution system served by an isolated generator of up to a few hundred kW in capacity. Power on these grids is often provided by diesel generators, but can be supplied by local, renewable resources such as microhydro, solar, biomass or wind. Mini-grids offer an intermediate solution between stand-alone individual home power systems and main grid connection, often proving more cost-effective and beneficial to the community than either of those alternatives.

Renewable energy-based mini-grids offer a significant opportunity to increase access to reliable electricity services for rural populations throughout the developing world. With this understanding, SERC is collaborating with researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), the Energy and Resources Group (ERG) at University of California at Berkeley, Prayas Energy Group (PEG) and Palang Thai on the ‘Renewable Energy Mini-grids for Improved Energy Access’ project. These efforts are in support of the Global Lighting and Energy Access Partnership (Global LEAP) initiative associated with the Clean Energy Ministerial.

A worker stands in front of a small developing world solar array.

A small-scale solar array used to provide power to a mini-grid. Photo courtesy JP Carvallo.

Our team recently published three documents with the intention of facilitating the effective development and successful operation of renewable energy mini-grids for rural electrification:

A worker stands in front of a small developing world solar array.

A micro-hydro system used to provide power to a mini-grid.

SERC’s interests in mini-grids expand beyond this collaboration. Other projects focused on the development of renewable energy mini-grids further include: