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Assessment of the potential for battery storage to provide affordable electricity access through solar PV mini-grids in West Africa

In this project, KTH worked with IRENA to assess the potential value of storage (VoS) for increased access to electricity through PV-based mini-grids in four countries in West Africa; Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal. The Open Source Spatial Electrification Tool (OnSSET) was coupled with a hybrid mini-grid optimization tool to evaluate the least-cost technology (grid/mini-grid/stand-alone) to supply electricity to each settlement in the four countries under different scenarios, and then evaluate the VoS in the settlements where mini-grids were found to provide electricity at the lowest cost.


Sustainable Development Goal 7 is aimed at ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030. Despite significant progress in recent years, more than 800 million people worldwide still lack access to electricity, making the deployment of sustainable and low-carbon electrification solutions crucial, both to achieve universal access for all (SDG 7) and fulfil the Paris Agreement. Of the current population living without access to electricity, around 95% is in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. According to The World Bank1, West Africa faces challenges in access to electricity. With 50% of the population in West Africa still lacking access to electricity, those who do, often pay among the highest electricity prices in the world. Off grid capacity additions in the region have been dominated by solar PV, however the absolute values remain small compared to the needs for achieving universal energy access by 2030.

Renewables deployment needs to be accelerated to ensure access for all by 2030. To ensure reliable 24/7 access to electricity, solar PV combined with battery storage has become the key solution in off-grid contexts and for unreliable grids, driven by technology improvements and cost reductions. In common with solar PV and wind technologies, battery storage has shown rapid declines in cost in recent years. With such competitive costs, and rapid cost reductions expected to continue, the share of solar PV in hybrid mini-grids is expected to increase thanks to increasing storage capacity; increasing battery storage capacity can help increase the share of electricity from solar PV in mini-grids.

The Open Source Spatial Electrification Tool, also known as OnSSET, is an open source geographic information system (GIS) based optimization tool developed by KTH. OnSSET calculates and visualizes in a GIS interface the least cost electrification solution for a specific location. Depending on a variety of factors and spatially explicit characteristics such as population density, distance to the transmission line, local renewable energy potential, productive activities, health, education and community services, night-time lights and others, OnSSET identifies the most cost-effective electrification solution between grid extension, mini-grids and stand-alone systems. The tool uses GIS data to represent power infrastructure information for a specific location. GIS data is also used to seize spatial fluctuation of energy resources such as wind and solar energy.

This project will expand on the characterization of battery storage, using full chromoly at hourly resolution in order to assess the value of battery storage in mini grids and stand alone systems in West Africa, as well as estimate the optimal amount of storage required in each system.

Aim and objectives

The overall objective of this project is to assess the value of storage for achieving universal energy access through PV-based mini-grids in Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal. To achieve this objective, the analysis will identify the optimal quantity of storage under different scenarios, jointly with the associated off-grid PV capacity, for areas currently without access to electricity. This can be achieved with a combination of an enhancement of OnSSET (or the use of an equivalent open source tool model that represents and captures the value of battery storage), to assess the optimal amount of storage and the associated investments, and the IRENA Electricity Storage Valuation Framework, in order to assess its value in providing cost-effective electricity access through deployment of solar PV-based mini-grids.

Project partners

Project partners: Kartoza

Funding is provided by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Timeframe: 2022


For further information about this project, please contact Jagruti Ramsing Thakur

Jagruti Ramsing Thakur
Jagruti Ramsing Thakur
assistant professor
Francesco Fuso-Nerini
Francesco Fuso-Nerini
associate professor


  1. The least-cost electrification scenarios developed as part of this project and the value of storage in West Africa can be explored on the visualization platform:

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