Geospatial least-cost electrification planning that integrates grid, mini grid, and off-grid solutions is a key tool to achieving universal electricity access. It allows comparison and assessment of the various pathways to universal access and may offer the least-cost option for developing countries.
To help mainstream the use of least-cost geospatial electrification planning, particularly in countries with low access to electricity, a consortium led by the World Bank has developed the Global Electrification Platform (GEP), an open source, open data tool to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) of universal access to modern energy services by 2030.
The GEP provides (i) a scenario-based, global model of least-cost electrification planning for universal access for high access deficit countries and (ii) a web mapping application the GEP Explorer that demonstrates the model’s results, allowing users to adjust certain parameters that affect least-cost electrification planning. The adjustable parameters include, but are not limited to, technology costs, electrification levels targeted, and timeline considered for universal access.
The GEP Explorer is complemented by the GEP Generator, an open-source user interface for generating electrification outlooks in real time. This interface allows users to explore all the model parameters and build custom scenarios that better match their requirements, while tools to generate input data are provided by the GEP Toolbox, making it possible for users to incorporate their own data. These tools have been used to prepare customized least-cost electrification analyses and platforms for Benin and other countries.
The GEP innovates with more open-source/open-data tools and methodologies. Examples include tools to better estimate residential, agricultural, and other sectoral demands and integrate schools and health clinics into electrification plans. Additional areas for future research and development include improved least-cost algorithms that integrate costs of unreliability, climate externalities, and impacts of transition to energy efficient appliances and merge electrification planning with upstream generation, transmission, and distribution planning. These improvements will be incorporated and periodically released into subsequent iterations of the GEP.