Sustainable development impacts of nationally determined contributions: assessing the case of mini-grids in Kenya

Mirko Dal Maso*, Karen Holm Olsen, Yan Dong, Mathilde Brix Pedersen, Michael Zwicky Hauschild

*Corresponding author for this work

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As of today, access to electricity is still unavailable to 1.1 billion people in the world, half of which live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Projections suggest that this share will increase, leaving millions of people with limited development prospects. Kenya's nationally determined contribution (NDC) to the 2015 Paris Agreement includes a commitment to expand power supply, and in doing so, provide all its citizens with access to electricity. Access in rural areas, where the majority remains unconnected, is planned to be reached through different technologies. These include mini-grids, which are expected to bring multiple sustainable development benefits. However, comprehensive studies looking at synergies and trade-offs between environmental, social, and economic impacts of mini-grids are scarce. Analyzing the expected contribution of mini-grids to targets such as the NDC and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can provide evidence-based decision-support to policymakers, thus promoting well-designed and sustainable rural electrification policies. By using the Initiative for Climate Action Transparency (ICAT) Sustainable Development Methodology, this paper goes beyond the calculation of greenhouse gas (GHG) impacts resulting from access to modern electricity, analyzing also other environmental and socio-economic implications of 146 solar PV mini grids under construction in Kenya. Using specific targets from the SDG framework, the paper presents a combined qualitative and quantitative analysis of the extent to which mini-grids can contribute to the implementation of Kenya's NDC and to sustainable development priorities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalClimate Policy
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)815-831
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Sustainable development goals (SDGs)
  • nationally determined contribution (NDC)
  • sustainability assessment
  • solar PV mini-grids
  • mitigation pathways
  • transparency


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