" + text + "

"); mydoc.close(); } //-->

Introduction for non-Energy Specialists

There are a number of ways to power small-scale ICT installations in locations that are not served by the electricity grid. Typically, the easiest and least expensive solution from the end user's perspective is to arrange for the extension of the electricity grid to the project site. The cost of grid extension increases with the distance from the grid at a rate of several thousand U.S. dollars per kilometer (Table below). Therefore grid extension often starts to become economically prohibitive farther than three to five km from the grid.

When grid extension is not an option, a standalone or distributed power system can be installed to generate electricity at a location close to the site where the electricity is needed. Examples of small-scale, standalone power systems include generator sets powered by diesel, solar PV systems, small wind systems, and micro-hydro systems. As illustrated in the table below, the cost of providing power in off-grid locations is influenced by the technology, the size or capacity of the system, and the ongoing operating costs of fuel and maintenance.

Grid extension
Solar PV
Small Wind
Diesel / Gas generator
Capital Costs
$4,000 to 10,000 per km [1]
12,000 to 20,000 per kW
$2,000 to 8,000 per kW
$1,000 to 4,000 per kW
$1,000 per kW
Operating Costs (per 1000 kWh)
$80 to 120 [2]
$5 [3]
$10 [4]
$20 [5]


Those who are not energy experts may wish to see the introduction or refresher to the basic concepts and terminology of electricity and power generation for a brief review of these topics (see Electricity Basics).

The energy options section of the toolkit provides a more detailed introduction to these and other commercialized, field-tested energy options that have been used to power small-scale installations around the world. The technologies described include some that are relatively familiar and widespread in rural areas, such as generator sets, as well as more site-specific options such as wind power and micro-hydro.

The information presented in this toolkit is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. To ensure a safe and effective power solution for a particular situation, an experienced professional should always participate in the design, installation and maintenance of electrical systems.