Small and decentralised energy solutions, for example, distributed renewables and small-scale storage, are crucial to delivering a quick, affordable, and equitable energy transition. They are well suited to expand energy access and reach underserved communities. However, their small size can also present barriers to funding and scaling up. Integrating small-scale energy solutions into national development planning can help to overcome some of these barriers.
This briefing is a part of our series of analyses into small-scale energy solutions. Our analysis compares how three leaders in deploying small-scale energy solutions – Kenya, Nepal and Nigeria – have achieved progress.
We have identified six essential building blocks for governments:
- Democratisation of the process, including local participation.
- Integration of small-scale clean energy with national development.
- Holistic mapping of the intersections with different ministries/agencies.
- National diagnostics on viability, including local value chains and sources of finance.
- Effective policy mobilised with adequate institutional capacity.
- Promotion of international cooperation.
A well-integrated energy and national development plan seizes opportunities at three layers of implementation: local, national, and international.
Locally, it needs to start with understanding communities’ needs, and how the energy delivered can stimulate economic activities at the local level.
At the national level, governments need to explicitly identify links between small-scale energy planning and the broader national development goals. Additionally, they need to clarify responsibilities across different government bodies, resolving any overlaps. Better division of responsibilities, and crowdsourcing of knowledge, will then allow proper diagnostics of the viability of different small-scale technologies and any gaps that need addressing. For example, whether opportunities to build local value chains exist, or the kind of support that is needed from international partners. This then needs to be formalised into adequate institutional capacity, ideally a specific ministry or agency with a clear mandate to deliver the ambitions, setting relevant and feasible targets.
Ultimately, showing this national capability and planning will increase confidence in international settings. This allows governments access to wider capital pools, for instance via international financial institutions, or knowledge and technology transfer with more advanced countries. Overall, this will provide room and resources for governments to do more – providing a positive feedback loop to accelerate both energy transitions and development.