Electrification of rural Mozambique : Sustainable energy solutions

Abstract: The UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 states that access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy should be provided for all by 2030. The effects on socioeconomic development by access to safe, affordable, and clean electricity stands out as educational benefits, income improvement, and health progress. However, the electrification rate has been slow for sub-Saharan Africa and Mozambique. Mozambique is one of the poorest countries on earth but has abundant supply of energy resources. The reason for the slow progress in rural electrification is not clear. Possible causes may be lack of basic infrastructure, institutional barriers, and low ability and willingness to pay for energy services. Consequently, there is a general gap between electricity supply and demand. In view of this, the thesis investigates ways to supply sustainable electricity to rural Mozambique. A possibility is to use mini-grid systems connected to small hydropower plants. Other possibilities are photovoltaic systems, and combustion of agricultural waste (such as gasification of cashew nut shells). A reason to use agricultural waste is that a large part of the population, and some 90% of the households, still use this as the main energy source for cooking and heating. It appears that the most promising energy sources at present for rural Mozambique are renewables such as solar power and small-scale hydropower. The solar power used at present is very small. However, there are strong incentives and good opportunities to increase the solar power in remote rural areas. Small-scale hydropower is also a good alternative for off-grid or mini-grid solutions. This study investigates the sustainability of different types of energy sources. This is especially important for solar power systems in view of the use of batteries, heavy metals, and accessibility for theft. Results show that legislation needs to be adapted to the suggested sustainable energy sources. There is a need for better institutional coordination and electrical mini-grids’ regulation. One of the conclusions is that there is an urgent need of taking adequate account of climate change since this will affect both existing and future hydropower projects in Mozambique. There is thus a risk for the future hydropower potential especially small-scale hydropower since these often operate with small or no storage.