Helios Social Enterprise

Offgrid Business Models

Many national utilities in SSA are unable to expand their grid fast enough, due to financial, technical and capacity constraints. Even where this is not an issue, social fairness requires solutions for remote regions with dispersed users who cannot be connected to the national power grid at reasonable costs (only 7% of SSA’s rural population has access to electricity today, compared to 23% overall access rate in the region). For such cases, offgrid options – such as village hydro power, diesel generators or solar home systems (SHS) – are an important alternative for providing basic electricity access at relatively low cost.

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Rural Electrification in India: Economic and Institutional aspects of Renewables

The paper assesses the demand for rural electricity services and contrasts it with the technology options available for rural electrification. Decentralised Distributed Generation can be economically viable as reflected by case studies reported in literature and analysed in our field study. Project success is driven by economically viable technology choice; however it is largely contingent on organisational leadership and appropriate institutional structures.

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Technical and Economic Assessment of Off-grid, Mini-grid and Grid Electrification Technologies

Today’s levels of energy services fail to meet the needs of the poor. Worldwide, two billion people rely on traditional biomass fuels for cooking and 1.6 billion people do not have access to electricity. Unless investments in providing modern energy services are expanded significantly, this number is expected to actually increase over the next 30 years (International Energy Agency [IEA], 2002). This lack of access to quality energy services, especially electricity, is a situation which entrenches poverty, constrains the delivery of social services, limits opportunities for women and girls, and erodes environmental sustainability at the local, national and global levels.

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Electrification: a Solution to the Cost of Social Exclusion

One of the most important conclusions of the Bahia workshop was that excluding part of the population from access to energy on account of their poverty, marginalization and the informality of the settlements has enormous long-term social, economic and financial costs. The root cause of the contemporary difficulty in providing electricity and other infrastructure services through public or private utilities is decades of such social exclusion, poverty and marginalization which have led to total distrust between formal structures and consumers, and to the rise of illegal and costly electricity distribution systems, often managed by private illegal entrepreneurs.

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Electrification and Regulation: Principles and a Model Law

An often-repeated statistic is that an estimated 1.6 billion people in the world do not have access to basic energy services. At international conferences dealing with electrification, speakers have often pointed out that any attempts at “scaling up” electrification will not be sustainable unless they are supported by workable economic regulatory systems. While there is widespread agreement on the need for regulatory systems that “help” rather than “hinder” electrification, the reality is that very little systematic work has been done on what such a system should look like.

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