Introduction to OnSSET

Universal access to electricity

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has set the goal of universal access to electricity by 2030 (SDG7). The challenge is significant. It involves reaching population with limited income, often living in sparsely populated areas, mostly in developing and least developed countries. The choice of which technology to use for increasing electricity access, depends on a number of parameters, from social to techno-economic including e.g. target level of energy access, local population density, distance to the national grid and local resource availability. These parameters are spatial in nature, making geospatial information very useful for their evaluation on both regional, national and sub-national scale.

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What is OnSSET?

Over the past few year, the division of Energy Systems Analysis at KTH has been embracing the advancements in the geospatial field, by developing together with partners an open source, geospatial electrification toolkit – the Open Source Spatial Electrification Tool (OnSSET). OnSSET is a GIS based tool developed to identify the least-cost electrification option(s) between seven alternative configurations:

  • Grid connection/extension
  • Mini grid systems (Solar PV, Wind Turbines, Diesel gensets, Small scale hydropower)
  • Stand-alone systems (Solar PV, Diesel gensets)

The results indicate the technology mix, capacity and investment requirements for achieving universal access in the modelled country, under a certain time period (usually until 2030). The findings can be presented in various formats such as interactive maps, graphs, images, tables etc.

Scope and Objective

OnSSET output, can be used to support policy development for electrification by taking into consideration specific guidelines and targets for each country. This, could help answer questions like:

  • What would it cost to provide universal electricity access in the country? How does this cost change based on the targeted consumption level per capita?
  • In case of limited resources, which customers/areas shall be prioritized? What key consumers should electrification activities focus on?
  • What part of population lives within 50 km from the existing grid infrastructure and what part in remote (last-mile) communities?
  • What is the most cost effective way to electrify populations in the last mile, what technologies and costs would that imply?
  • How do diesel generators compare with off grid renewables (solar PV, wind, hydro) in terms of overall economic performance? What are the implications of an imminent carbon pricing scheme?
  • What is the importance/impact of diesel price in the generation mix for electrification?
  • How does fuel cost for diesel compares with high upfront cost of renewables in terms of subsidy schemes (continuous vs one-time subsidy)?

To the current state, OnSSET has supported electrification efforts in many countries around the globe including Afghanistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, India, Tanzania, Madagascar and Benin as part of joint collaboration with the World Bank, the United Nations and SNV. These organizations, have warmly embraced the tool in their fight against energy poverty. In addition, OnSSET has featured in several peer reviewd publications including the World Energy Outlook in 2014, 2015 and 2017.