The mini grids produce energy for lighting, commercial and other productive uses to business and mainly lighting and phone charging to households.
World Wide Fund Uganda has called for combined efforts towards prioritizing promotion of Renewable Energy in Uganda through mini grids system as a way of tackling issues of climate change as well as economic development.
According to the WWF Uganda Country Director, David Duli, the forest cover in the country has drastically reduced and this loss is partly attributed to the unsustainable use of biomass and encroachment to these resources by the community in search of timber as a source of income.
“There is need for government to prioritize construction of mini grids in off-grid communities around the country and engaging private sector players to invest in the renewable energy solutions to accelerate the uptake and use of these technologies,” said David.
Among its initiatives, WWF is promoting clean energy access and the transition to a low carbon development pathway through rural electrification using solar mini-grids.
In Partnership with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development , WWF has installed seven solar mini-grid systems so far, in Kasese and Rubirizi districts with a total generation capacity of 175 kW.
These can potentially supply over 1,800 homes and 200 business centers.
The mini grids produce energy for lighting, commercial and other productive uses to business , lighting and phone charging in households.
This has created new opportunities for livelihood improvement through productive use of electricity, creation of new jobs especially for the youth and contribution to sustainable and inclusive economic growth in these rural communities.
Additionally, WWF under the same project supported by the European Union has distributed 11,200 solar home systems, a move that has increased access to solar use by the off-grid communities.
A study by World Bank 2016 revealed that electricity is affordable if 30 units of electricity (kWh) a month costs not more than 5% of household income. Yet most of the communities in Uganda (95%) live in rural areas and below the poverty line (0.88USD – 1.04USD/person/day).
Uganda has 34 installed mini-grids that are currently serving approximately 20,000 households. This is less than 1% of the 7.3 million households in the country.
Uganda’s renewable energy potential has not been fully exploited beyond hydro power. In 2009, Uganda created feed-in tariffs for renewable energy and the Modern Energy Service Programme in 2011 to promote bio-fuels.
Currently, biomass supplies about 90% of the country’s energy needs. Biomass utilization together with the population growth have put much pressure on Uganda’s forests, which covered 26.4% of the country’s surface in 2018 and has been decreased by 18% since 2000.