Supporting rural electrification

IEC series of publications to help rural populations in developing world access electricity

By Morand Fachot

Hundreds of millions living in rural areas in developing countries are without access to electricity, a prerequisite to human and economic development. Off-grid renewable energies offer an attractive solution for these people. The IEC has issued a series of publications for small renewable energy and hybrid systems for rural electrification, which is available at a discounted price in a joint initiative with the World Bank Group and the United Nations Foundation.

Solar PV panel covering battery cabinet in Gabon (Photo: Meagle Sun)
Solar PV panel covering battery cabinet in Gabon (Photo: Meagle Sun)

Remote or no prospect of grid connection

Many people in developing countries are deprived of the benefits of access to electricity as a result of an inadequate infrastructure. As a result they are denied access to many economic and socio-cultural benefits.

As prospects from grid-connectivity are rather remote, if not totally inexistent, off-grid electrification that relies on REs (renewable energies), that is essentially solar PV (photovoltaic) systems appears as the most realistic and suitable solution for these regions.

Comprehensive work

For more than 15 years IEC TC (Technical Committee) 82: Solar photovoltaic energy systems, has been developing publications that set out recommendations aimed at guiding the introduction and use of REs in rural decentralized electrification.

This work has so far resulted in the development of the IEC/TS 62257 series of 18 publications that includes, among other things, general requirements for the design, erection and operation of microgrids and micropower plants; recommendations for small renewable energy and hybrid systems; and the selection of components.

In addition to requirements to ensure the safety of persons and property, and recommendations concerning operation, maintenance and replacement as well as project development and management, these publications cover also the following:

  • system selection and design
  • selection of self-ballasted lamps (CFL)
  • selection of PV-IES (PV individual electrification systems)
  • selection of stand-alone lighting kits for rural electrification
  • selection of batteries and battery management systems
  • various types of generators - Photovoltaic generators
  • details of microgrids and micropower systems.

Easier, cheaper access for key stakeholders

The IEC has responded positively to a request from the United Nations Foundation to make the IEC/TS 62257 technical specifications more easily available to key stakeholders in developing countries. This request was reinforced by the conclusions of a 2012 workshop on rural electrification held by AFSEC (African Electrotechnical Standardization Commission) with experts from IEC TC 82. As result of that workshop, AFSEC is developing a technical guide for sustainable off-grid electrification, with reference to IEC/TS 62257 series.

The IEC, World Bank Group and United Nations Foundation have worked together to give access to the IEC/TS 62257 series to key stakeholders at discounts ranging between 50% and 75%. Details are available from the IEC Webstore.

Gallery
Solar PV panel covering battery cabinet in Gabon (Photo: Meagle Sun) Solar PV panel covering battery cabinet in Gabon (Photo: Meagle Sun)
Installing a PV panel on a roof in Liberia (Photo: Pickering Energy Solutions) Installing a PV panel on a roof in Liberia (Photo: Pickering Energy Solutions)
Boys studying thanks to a solar lamp (Photo: d.light design) Boys studying thanks to a solar lamp (Photo: d.light design)