Mini-Grid Innovation Lab:
innovating to provide more power,
to more people,
at less cost
Once an innovation is identified for testing, CrossBoundary’s Innovation Lab defines the hypotheses to be tested and metrics to be tracked in a detailed study design. We publish an Innovation Insight sharing the first meaningful results and then a final report at the study’s end evaluating the impact on the business model.
Offers customers appliances on set financing terms to test the impact on a mini-grid’s load, customer consumption, and developers’ revenues.
APPLIANCE FINANCING 1.0
Tests household appliances, such as TVs, fridges, and speakers.
August 2019 Innovation Insight | NextBillion Article
April 2021 Innovation Insight
APPLIANCE FINANCING 2.0
Tests productive use appliances, such as grain mills and welders, and introduces Angaza as a payment platform to simplify developers’ tracking of loan repayments.
Study Design | April 2020 Article
APPLIANCE FINANCING 3.0
Introduces Asaga Technologies to supply energy-efficient productive use appliances customized to the African mini-grid market.
Study Design | December 2022 Innovation Insight | November 2021 Innovation Insight
Aggregates developers’ orders for various mini-grid components to negotiate the best deal and procure components in bulk, to test the impact on developers’ capital expenditure.
CONNECTING BEYOND THE METER
Delivers the full benefits of electrification to customers from day 1, by offering an electricity connection and appliances simultaneously, to test if customers can benefit from more energy services more quickly, and at less cost to the developer.
Subsidizes a mini-grid’s tariffs to compete with main grid tariffs on sites where the main grid has encroached, to test the impact on customers’ choice in power.
Tests the impact on developers’ capex of proactively building distribution infrastructure and installing connections ahead of receiving customer connection fees.
Offers customers internet connections to test the impact on customer consumption and developers’ revenues.
Tests Wi-Fi-based internet connections served by satellite.
Tests fiber-based internet connections served by the local telecom network.
Tests the hardware and software performance of several smart meters to help developers choose the optimal meter for a given site.
Tests smart inverters and new battery technologies that allow developers to flexibly and efficiently change a mini-grid’s generation and storage capacity to match demand, thereby optimizing capital expenditure.
INCREASING CAPACITY MODULARLY
Tests new technologies designed to increase a mini-grid’s capacity, at sites where demand is greater than capacity.
Study Design | November 2020 Article
EXTENDING REACH MODULARLY
Tests new technologies designed to expand a mini-grid’s reach to serve new productive use customers, at sites where capacity is greater than demand.
Models the predictive power of the Lab’s data in estimating consumption at a mini-grid site, to determine the site and customer characteristics most predictive of a new site’s consumption.
Subsidizes a mini-grid’s tariffs to test the impact on customer consumption and developers’ revenues.
September 2020 Innovation Insight
Africa Energy Portal Article