Ethiopia has one of the lowest rates of energy access in the world, as only 14% of its 82 million people
have a direct supply of electricity in their homes. 83% of the population (66 million) live in rural areas,
where the figure is below 1%. However, the Ethiopian government is aiming to achieve middle income
status by 2025 and has a vision to become a regional hub for renewable energy in East Africa, as
Ethiopia has significant hydro, geothermal, solar and wind resources. In fact, Ethiopia already
generates 98% of its electricity from renewable sources and wind power is already being exploited at
the utility scale, with three wind farms now feeding power into the Ethiopian electricity grid.
With the exception of a few key components, SWTs can be manufactured from materials that are
available in urban centres around the world and as a result have the potential to enhance local
economies, build local capacity for operation and maintenance, including a local supply chain for spare
parts, along with trained mechanics and engineers who are able to perform repairs. This market
the assessment was commissioned by MercyCorps in order to answer the following research question:
What role (if any) could Small Wind Turbines (SWTs) play in the electrification of remote communities
in the Somali, Afar and Southern Oromia regions of Ethiopia?
The market assessment was carried out by Wind Empowerment, an association for the development
of locally manufactured small wind turbines for sustainable rural electrification. This report applies an
open-source methodology currently under development by the association’s Market Assessment
Working Group and draws heavily on the collective experience of its 40+ members in over 25 different
countries. The methodology uses a combination of techno-economic and spatial modeling, to
compare SWTs with the other most viable off-grid power generation technologies using the Levelised
Cost of Energy (LCoE) as the key metric. This study investigates the scalability of a 1kW SWT designed
to meet the demands of a rural commercial centre by comparing four power generation system
- Solar PV/Generator
- Solar PV/SWT/Generator
The study is conducted on the basis that a micro-business would be established in the most viable
region and the modelling takes into account the costs associated with local manufacture or
importation of the various system components, as well as the installation and operation/maintenance
of the energy systems. The model tests the sensitivity of the outcome to variations in the economic
parameters in order to reflect the different scenarios in which the system could be employed (e.g.
accessible vs. very remote sites) and future price trends (e.g. the falling global price of PV). The
sensitivity of the outcome of the model with respect to the range of energy resources typically found
across Ethiopia was also tested and plotted using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in order to
assess where SWTs are economically viable.