The objective of most rural electrification programs in the developing world is to bring about socioeconomicdevelopment to households. Governments have put in place a number of measures to achievethis goal. Previous studies on rural electrification programs in developing countries show that solar homesystems and mini-grid systems are the dominant technologies. Assessments of a pilot hybrid mini-gridproject at Lucingweni village have concluded that mini-grid projects are not feasible due to high electricityproduction costs. As a result efforts toward rural electrification have been focused on the solar homesystem. Nevertheless, previous studies of the South African solar home system program have shown thatthe development objectives of the program are yet to be met more than a decade after commissioning.Therefore, this study investigates the viability of a hybrid mini-grid as a solution for rural developmentin South Africa. Investigations were based on Lucingweni and Thlatlaganya, two rural Villages where themini-grid and solar home system have been introduced. The mini-grid systems were designed taking intoconsideration available natural resources and existing load profiles. The results show that a village of 300households needs about 2.4 kW h/household/day of electricity to initiate and sustain income generatingactivities and that the solar home system is not capable of supporting this level of demand. We also showthat in locations with hydro resources, a hybrid mini-grid system has the most potential for meeting theenergy needs of the households in a cost effective manner. The assessment shows that with adequateplanning and optimization of available resources, the cost of electricity production can be reduced.
2016. no 110, 268-277 p.