Planning the grid integration of minigrids in developing countries

Rights statement
Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 2022
Thesis identifier
  • T16322
Person Identifier (Local)
  • 201869098
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • In the two decades since 2000, the world electricity access rate has improved from 73% to 90%, through grid extension and off-grid solutions, like minigrids and solar home systems. Beyond electricity access, the integration of main grids and minigrids, is a prospect for addressing some challenges associated with current electricity access initiatives, such as network losses and poor supply voltages. The grid integration of minigrids is comparable to the integration of low carbon distributed energy resources (DERs) in the global north grids, whose success has been ensured by developing appropriate planning methods for maximising benefits. However, no suitable planning methodology is available to maximise the benefits of grid integration of formerly autonomous minigrids in developing countries. This thesis proposes a minigrid integration planning (MGIP) method that minimises active and reactive power losses and improves voltage profile. It builds on the available academic work on distribution network planning and DER integration by including a significantly ‘better’ articulation of the performance of downstream minigrids within the associated optimisation problem. The thesis also proposes a pre-assessment procedure for characterising the application of MGIP to a specific set of minigrid integrations. The procedure pre-qualifies minigrids and classifies the expected ‘value’ of MGIP to improve system parameters (e.g., losses, voltage profile). Minigrids with limited benefits are removed from the global optimisation problem to provide a resultant saving in computational effort. Case studies akin to sub-Saharan Africa grid applications are developed and considered. Results show that applying the MGIP can reduce losses by up to 76% and significantly improve voltage profiles. Additionally, the pre-assessment procedure offers regular computational savings and improves decision-making when applying the MGIP. The work presented in this thesis contributes to the technical aspects of planning the grid integration of formerly autonomous minigrids initially deployed to widen electricity access in developing countries.
Advisor / supervisor
  • Galloway, Stuart
  • Frame, Damien
Resource Type