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How does increased on-grid renewable electricity capacity affect the availability and reliability of supply?

As well as the need to build and maintain adequate grid and distribution capacity, there are crucial decisions to be made on which communities to electrify. In this regard, public utilities have traditionally concentrated their services on urban elites. Because of concerns over cost recovery, donors have also favoured densely populated communities, with relatively high average household income, located close to existing grids. Although these issues may partly explain the low impacts of earlier electrification projects on poverty, different approaches are possible. For example, around 17 per cent of World Bank projects use a social allocation rule, which prioritises deprived areas regardless of economic criteria.

* These issues do not apply to off-grid systems, where the link from generation to end use is clear.

Image credits: Reinholdbehringer | Flickr