GREENTECH MEDIA - PowerGen CEO Sam Slaughter asks: How much energy access is enough? We are in the midst of a rapid evolution in electrification strategies within developing markets around the world. Many are asking whether the future of energy in developing countries lies with off-grid solar systems tied to storage, or with large interconnected grids.
In a recent piece published by GTM, Daniel Tomlinson quoted several solar home system companies who put forward their argument that African consumers don’t need as much power as consumers in developed countries -- so the optimal solution for these consumers should be small solar home systems rather than the centralized grid or microgrid.
Decentralization is a nice idea, but it ignores the facts. It will take much more to electrify the world.
Lithium-ion batteries currently cost about $350 per kilowatt-hour. Costs are expected to come down to $150 per kilowatt-hour in the coming years, so let's work with that assumption. To disconnect the average American household from the grid, it would cost $150 per kilowatt hour x 30 kilowatt-hours per day x two days "autonomy factor" to provide the necessary storage. This amounts to $9,000.