Did you know that when developing ICT-based projects in off-grid or poorly electrified areas, the cost of providing electricity can consume as much as 80% of initial project funds if energy demand is not managed properly from the outset.
The selection of low-power ICT equipment, such as notebook computers, low-power desktop computers, LCDs screens, and ink jet printers (See ICT Options), can result in significant net savings in initial ICT and energy investment costs. Energy management is particularly important when purchasing solar PV and small wind systems.
Even when grid power is available, low ICT power consumption may be beneficial if the grid is unreliable and subject to frequent power outages. When the grid has frequent outages, a back-up battery system may be needed to ensure continuous availability of electricity. As with distributed energy generation systems, the cost of a back-up battery system typically increases with the capacity of the battery bank. In general, the less energy the ICTs are consuming, the less expensive it will be to supply any shortfalls that may arise during the lifetime of the project.
A variety of field tested, commercialized standalone power systems are available to provide electricity for small-scale ICT applications in off-grid and poorly electrified areas. Widely available options include rechargeable batteries, solar PV, and generator sets. Where natural resources are available, small wind turbines and micro-hydro systems can also be cost-effective options (See Energy Options). The turnkey equipment and installation costs of these energy systems in developing countries typically ranges between $1,000 and $20,000 per kW. Power systems based on renewable energy resources such as sunlight, wind and running water typically incur most of their costs up front with the initial purchase and installation of the system, whereas power options based on fossil fuels tend to have lower investment costs and much higher running costs over time.