A few solar panels connected to inverter, plus a battery no bigger than those found inside an electric vehicle. That’s all it takes….to provide power in Africa.
Micro Grid: A few solar panels, a controller and a battery comprise an independent Distributed solar power system. Connect this to some highly efficient DC appliances and a PAYG operating system and you have one of the tens of thousands of independent solar power systems already operating in Africa providing light and productive power. Hundreds of thousands of these are operating world-wide, making 1,437 micro-grid projects worldwide seem like a drop in the power pool.
Mini Grid. To build a mini-grid, one adds complexity and cost: Inverters; power meters and of course the grid wires, which can add an additional 30% to the costs. And in rural Africa where population densities are low, and connection densities even lower, these costs either sky-rocket or leave the farmers, who are the backbone of the local economy, without power as the distances become too great.
Instead, we at Africa Power provide independent power systems for each of our customers, together with the equipment (or appliances) sized to make productive use of the power. The units are sized to match the load. The equipment is chosen to be highly efficient, lowering the costs of the power service. Everything is remotely monitored, fully maintained and all for a weekly or monthly PAYG fee.
Distributed Energy. If mini-grids are favoured due to high resilience, then Distributed systems are even more resilient. This is because every component added to an independent system to build a mini-grid reduces the reliability, especially the grid wires which are vulnerable to power storms and outages. As distributed, independent power systems have fewer interconnected components, then costs are lower, there are fewer outages, and with no (grid) wires, there is no need to get planning permission for the poles, no theft of power and much less frequent lightning strikes.
Nor is there any reason to suppose that solar cannot operate high power equipment. Nearly every solar installation has a battery to store power for use at night. This provides any bursts of power whenever needed. Even a humble small car battery, draws 3-6kW every time one starts a car, and the (deep-cycle) solar batteries can be much larger. So simply size the solar panels and batteries for the average daily energy use, connect up a controller and the equipment and switch on.
Rural electrification is as easy as ABCD™.
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