Articles by Jane Dougherty
2020 MOST INFLUENTIAL ARTICLE CANDIDATE: Milling on Mini-Grids: How Africa’s Largest Crop Could Go Diesel-Free
Milling is a key use of energy for people living off-grid in rural Africa, allowing them to turn grains like maize – the region's most commonly produced cereal – into flour to make staple foods. Using solar mini-grid electricity to power these mills would save money, reduce air pollution and boost electricity sales for mini-grid companies. But as analysts at CrossBoundary point out, diesel mills still dominate the market. They explore the challenge of competing with diesel, and how innovations in solar mills are changing the landscape.
Half of Africa’s population is living without electricity, and mini-grids could connect at least 100 million of these 600 million people. But mini-grid developers struggle to profitably serve these potential customers, due in part to the difficulty of accurately forecasting their electricity demand. Analysts at CrossBoundary explore why this process is so complex and prone to inaccuracy, why surveying customers is often ineffective – and what can be done about it.
Over 600 million Africans live without electricity, and mini-grids are a cheap solution to bring power to at least 100 million of them. But the mini-grid business model is not yet sustainable. This is due in part to low levels of energy consumption by rural customers, who often can't afford the high upfront costs of appliances that would increase their energy usage. Analysts at CrossBoundary explore new research on whether offering financing for household appliances can help overcome this barrier.