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Dr. David Manetsgruber

University of Applied Sciences Neu-Ulm, Germany


Talk Title
Perspectives on rural electrification – smart concepts for sustainable development

Talk Abstract



According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) there is promising potential for the development of future rural electrification markets. It is expected that 70% of the rural areas that currently lack access in developing countries will need to be connected using mini-grid or off-grid (decentralized) solutions in order to achieve universal access to electricity.


The main reasons for this general positive perspective for advanced mini-grid technologies are (the possibility for more rapid, scalable and tailor-made deployment in comparison to grid-solutions, the fact that there is no dependence on grid-extension which is important for remote areas, and the positive impact on local business development and job creation opportunities. At the same time, expected results can only be achieved if the private sector operates in a business environment which allows to step out of the traditional practice of pilot projects and move into successful deployment of mini-grids technologies which will allow for upscaling and replication. While in the past the majority of mini-grid projects were financed through grants, there is a trend in the sector to increase the role of commercial financing. This requires financiers, investors and private sector developers to use specific risk assessment tools and mitigation strategies.


Rural electrification by using mini-grids has been the objective of many development policies over the past years. Most mini-grid projects turned out as failures because of poor suitability to user needs, local conditions and expectations of investors and several other risks. In other words: Usually inadequate business models are the reason why most of the mini-grids do not work properly. In addition, practical experience shows that hybrid mini-grids, powered by a renewable energy resource and a Diesel generator (“diesel genset”) for back-up or peak-load purposes are generally the most competitive technical solution. Usually photovoltaic is chosen for the renewable source due to the objective of overall availability. However, translating this great technical potential into a real business success story has turned out to be extremely challenging. Deployment of hybrid mini-grids involves complex financial and organizational questions which can be assigned to challenges in the fields of sales, technology and finance. A successful business model satisfies the demand of the customers with high quality and 24/7 availability based on sound pricing models, relies on an adequate funding. Ideally the funding should be both from the private and public sector, and regarding the technology it should operate reliably and be easy to maintain.


Due to these manifold financial and organizational challenges it can be an insurmountable challenge for private and public investors to maintain proper risk awareness. Without an assessment of the different risks influencing the economic performance of a mini-grid, the uncertainty given by the complex structure of the mini-grid could lead to the point where lack of transparency discourages investments in decentralized electrification.


Is socio-political stability given?


What about the mini-grid’s economic stability?


How, if at all, are the aforementioned circumstances likely to change and how will these parameters affect the financial stability of the mini-grid?

These are crucial questions that an investor will ask himself when assessing the risks of a potential investment in a mini-grid for decentralized electrification. A mini-grid specific risk assessment aims to reduce uncertainty and effectively contains aggregated answers to such crucial questions. 

Short Biography

Born 1985 in Austria, showing up expertise in national and international academic funding opportunities and multinational project realization. Possessing prior knowledge and the ability to conduct research activities in different developing countries


(e.g. Cambodia, Thailand, India, Philippines, Laos, Ethiopia, Kenya, Cameroon)





Risk analysis and rating, Finance and accounting, Entrepreneurship,


Rural electrification, Business model development,t Technology in multiple areas,


Data research in Asia and Africa, Data validation and processing, Academic writing,


Digital Transformation and Autonomous driving car concepts






University of Applied Sciences Neu-Ulm (HNU), March 2014 - Present


Working with academic members in different project teams in order to deliver academic publications and valid process data as well as specific rural development projects.






Institute for Digital Transformation (IDT), September 2016 - Present

Collaborating with academic members and industry partners in order to develop applied research-based projects in the field of Digital Transformation, digital business models and smart city and car concepts in comparison with autonomous driving..

Talk Keywords
Rural electrification, Risk management, rural development, base of pyramid, market potential in developing countries.
Target Audience
Students, Post doctoral, Industry, Doctors and professors
Speaker-intro video

The International Conference on Innovative Applied Energy (IAPE’18)