We (www.persistentenergypartners.com) are implementing low CAPEX micro-grids through our partner companies. While these are not hybrid systems, this might still be attractive to you, depending on the circumstances? Can you provide a little more insight into:
- You said you are looking to lower the distribution part of your grid? Do you have the generation capacity already installed?
- Expected load profile and rationale for Hybrid/PV?
- Operational / business model for the grid - how much revenue do you expect per user on average and what do you define as low Capex.
If you are interested to have a chat, please e-mail me on email@example.com
I would be very interested in your findings on that matter, if you are willing to share them.
I am trying to implement a similar project in West Africa (hybrid PV-Diesel). The cost I have for the distribution network is around $10k/km but data is very hard to find...
From a village perspective our basic model is one that allows choice of one or more renewable and load-tracking sources to meet their energy needs. These sources could be shipped to the village and “plugged in” where they are needed much like an appliance. As the demand for more energy grows, new sources are added as needed. The basic objective is the creation of a low cost and robust isolated power system that is easy to maintain and expand. The simplest system contains photovoltaic, (PV), small diesel generators and perhaps storage with microgrid capabilities.
Such a system needs to optimize the PV energy with the diesel/storage sources filling in the energy gaps resulting from the intermittent output of PV. There needs to be maximum flexibility in the choice of energy resources depending on the needs of the electrical loads and their location. Technically we aim for scalability, modularity, and maintainability. This implies a bottom up or incremental approach with the ability to add more sources and loads at low cost.
There is a very successful example in Tecogen’s Inverde-100. This is a 100kW combined heat and power source with CERTS microgrid capability. The prime mover is based on an automobile V- 8 block converted to run on natural gas with a power electronic interface to improve efficiency when operating at partial loading. In the north east of the US the payback period for this system is less than 5 years. For the village model this system is still too large in capacity, does not use diesel, and has a complex power electronic interface. Without the power electronic interface it should be possible further lower the cost of generation. For the smaller power levels of, say 10kW and 40kW, an equivalent plug-and-paly generation source does not currently exist for use in village microgrids and needs to be developed. This should reduce the component cost allowng us to provide power to smaller villages.
 “The CERTS microgrid control technology is the most radical of all options-as well as the lowest cost-as it is embedded into a 100-kW CHP system offered by Tecogen”. (Peter Asmus - Pike Research, Distributed Generation, 2011)
Dear Robert Lasseter,
I thank you for posting about the energy solutions for West Africa.
Indeed the technology exists to solve the energy problem for west african region. These villages can become energy surplus with our systems which are perfectly suitable for off grid power supply for 24 / 7. We provide the technology that is green, clean and sustainable.
Our systems are ideal to generate 10 KWe to 2 MWe levels of power plants and thermal process plants.
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"For the smaller power levels of, say 10kW and 40kW, an equivalent plug-and-play generation source does not currently exist for use in village microgrids and needs to be developed. This should reduce the component cost allowng us to provide power to smaller villages."
This appears to be a serious missing piece. Would a venture fund invest in developing a solution for this? I would like to try.
One, inter-connectivity among the microgrids, similar to extending cellular hexagons, for frequency reuse in cellular systems.
Two, the network management of the individual cell, and inter-cell optimization. Has anyone done this? This is not like a distributed generation source connecting to the grid, rather, this is inter-microgrid connectivity and optimization.
The common perception is that microgrids are for emerging economies, and small, village level systems. In fact, microgrids can be the building blocks of competitive electricity solutions even in urban areas. I would appreciate anyone commenting on this. Thus a scalable microgrid can be a competitive local electric company. I wrote in Renewable Energy World, Jan 2014, How Many Electric Utilities Does A Market Need? I would appreciate any feedback.
Hello Mr. Mahesh,
thanks for posting on this forum. I really appreciate your views on off grid distributed power generations. Your article definitely raises concern and awareness for the off grid electricity technology.
Here i would like to say that yes it is possible. Because this is not the forum for product marketing, hence i would not go far, i would like to say that yes 10 KWe and 40 KWe Plug and play systems do exist. I have already described the technology developed in biomass industries. However, this all depends upon the feedstock / biomass availabilities.
I would appreciate your views on this.
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One of the issues is how we think of isolated power systems or microgrids. For example if we took the Tecogen 100kW source with another 100 kW PV we have a system that could supply power to maybe 50 homes over a large area requiring distribution lines. If instead we started with 10kW units the cost/or need for distribution lines and transformers could be greatly decreased. The problem with this model is scalability. If the 10kW sources had the plug-and-play function used by Tecogen we could add units as load grows without additional complexity. Said another way this allows starting at a lower system cost which can grow incrementally.
I fully agree with Robert.
I might also add that for small, rural electrification projects, the energy requirement from the customers does not necessarily implies a distribution grid. At least during the first years.
What off-grid households would need right away is lighting, mobile phone charging services, and maybe a couple more basic energy services. Portable batteries or solar kits are well suited for that type of applications, and would be acceptable instead of grid electricity until people buy bigger equipment, such as refrigerators, TVs, etc.
For productive uses, the platform model is also interesting because it centralizes the equipment that needs electricity in one place, close to the generation system. It reduces the need for a distribution grid, because the productive tools are all located in a shared workshop, instead of being dispersed in multiple workshops.
That is true. What kind of microgrid is used, depends completely of the type of village and location. We decided to bring power to the houses and small businesses (like bars and shops) located not far from each other as a first step, but the near by telecom tower will be connected as well.
It is probably better to start at a small scale and to extend the distribution later. But for your example with 10kW in the beginning would mean, that you only use a small part of the power the PV system could supply. So you pay for the larger PV system and get less money back from the customers. If you want to add units later, then you have to build a larger distribution line later. That would only shift the expenses to a later time. Do I see this correct?
we have 11 kwe systems available which is ideal to meet the energy requirement for telecom tower and also ideal for off grid power distribution for remote areas. If you would like to have more information please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I want to add to your discussion from our experience with the first solar mini grid of 100kW with a battery backup. This serves a rural market of 235 consumers for about 14 hours. From the financial point of view, it is critical to have a consumer mix which includes a few larger commercials (hotels, clinics, etc), many small shops and households. Investing on the distribution line reduces with clustered consumers, but focus should be in a good quality grid that reduces maintenance and increases reliability. Too small plant size may ease the initial expense but re-doing later can become more costly. It all depends upon how well you can plan ahead with your current load pattern, and future growth prospects.
Thank you for sharing your experience Hasna Khan!
I kind of found the same information during further planning. Despite of small households and shops we are gonna serve one telecom tower. The tower needs the same amount of power 24/7. So the whole system is gonna be more expensive. Mainly because the generator has to run at night and the costs for fuel are quite high. The power produced by PV and stored in batteries will be used up during the evening peak, even if we enlarge the PV system to more than 100kW, which would not be feasible any more.
Though we are looking for a way to lower the CAPEX of the distribution system, we want it to be of a good quality. We are planning to connect more users in the village after the system ran successfully.
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