Press Releases

February 23, 2014 – New Report on Micro-grids and Electrification

Washington, DC, February 21 – The United Nations Foundation today released a groundbreaking new study evaluating the contribution of micro-grids to electrification in developing countries.

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory of the University of California, Berkeley, together with the UN Foundation’s Energy Access Practitioner Network, collaborated on “Micro-grids for Rural Electrification: A critical review of best practices based on seven case studies.” The research was led by Professor Daniel M. Kammen of UC Berkeley and his graduate students Juan Pablo Carvallo, Ranjit Deshmukh, and Deepa Shinde Lounsbury, together with Professor Jay Apt of CMU and his doctoral student Daniel Schnitzer.

The study examined a range of micro-grid applications in rural communities, based on extensive field visits to micro-grid developer sites and offices in India, Malaysian Borneo, and Haiti. These formed the basis for a range of case studies where the challenges and successes of each developer were assessed. The roles of subsidies, tariff design, maintenance, and other factors that constitute micro-grid operations were examined in the context of existing best practices and re-examined in light of the findings of the seven case studies.

The report examines the factors driving the sustainability of micro-grid operations, and frames a set of generally applicable practical findings, presented as “virtuous” cycles of reinforcing technologies and management practices, contrasted with “vicious” cycles that lead to systems falling out of good repair and use. Distinctions are made between the different metrics used by developers for what they consider to be a “sustainable” micro-grid.

Richenda Van Leeuwen, Executive Director for Energy Access at the United Nations Foundation, said the study “makes an important contribution to developing best practices across the micro-grids sector, as we look to identify the full role micro-grids can play in addressing energy access issues globally in light of the Sustainable Energy for All goal of reaching universal energy access by 2030.”

To read the entire report, click here.


United Nations Foundation
The United Nations Foundation builds public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach. Through innovative campaigns and initiatives, the Foundation connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The Foundation was created in 1998 as a U.S. public charity by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner and now is supported by global corporations, foundations, governments, and individuals. For more information, visit

About the Energy Access Practitioner Network
As a part of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, the Energy Access Practitioner Network promotes universal access to modern energy services. With more than 1,600 members, the Network focuses on decentralized low-carbon household and community-level electrification. It supports innovative financial and business models in predominantly market-based applications that also help address development issues related to income generation, health, agriculture, education, small business, and telecommunications. Visit