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POPULATION DENSITY MAP OF SOUTH AFRICA

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  • Over 500 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity, according to the World Bank
  • In South Africa, the majority of un-electrified settlements will not receive grid power for the next 20 years.
  • Services offered under the renewable system do not often match the needs and payment capacity of all end users

 

BACKGROUND: THE CURRENT WARS

BACKGROUND: THE CURRENT WAR THOMAS EDISON

Thomas Edison's first  power plant was constructed in 1882 – the Manhattan Pearl Street Station – was essentially a microgrid, since a centralized grid had not yet been established. By 1886, Edison's firm had installed 58 direct current, or DC microgrids.edison
When Thomas Edison pioneered the sale and delivery of electric power, he envisioned small, local power generators delivering electricity to a limited number of customers using direct current (DC). Each generator having a unique power/application ratio. Hence, the Principle of DC Microgrids was established.

BACKGROUND: THE CURRENT WAR NICOLA TESLA

AC power was advanced by Nicola Tesla and came to dominate electricity generation and transmission almost exclusively.  AC could be transmitted more efficiently over long distances at high voltage while using lower current.  tesla  Thus, AC could take better advantage of larger economies of scale enjoyed by large power plants. However, shortly thereafter, the electric services industry evolved to a state-regulated monopoly market, thus removing incentives for Microgrid developments. 

 WHAT NICOLA TESLA FAILED TO SEE: THE LONG TERM EFFECTS OF AC

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  • The slow poisoning of the planet by the use of fossil/nuclear fuels to generate AC
  • The inability of efficient application in areas that lack the required infrastructure, making AC electrical energisation non-practical
  • Total reliance on grid power holding back growing economies and creating giant unhealthy monopolies

DIRECT CURRENT (DC)

WHAT IS DC CURRENT?

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Direct current (DC) is stored by means batteries and generated via solar cells, fuel cells and wind turbine generators etc.

THE MANY ADVANTAGES OF DC OVER AC CURRENThands

  • No legislation is required for systems under 50 VOLTS
  • Totally safe form of power under 50 VOLTS
  • Creates opportunity for development of unskilled labour to be trained in its application
  • Efficient. Uses up to 75% less power per application compared to AC
  • Requires no traditional AC infrastructure
  • Can quickly be designed to specific requirements
  • Has the ability to store excess power via batteries for future usage
  • Has the capacity to optimize and better manage renewable distributed generation sources such as solar photovoltaic cells or small wind turbines
  • The expansion of microgrids in developing countries may allow them to leapfrog over developed nations in the sophistication and efficiency of electric grid operations, offering enticing business prospects for microgrid developers that actually can deliver real social and environmental value and component suppliers – a rare combination these days.

WHAT IS THE DC CURRENT REVIVAL?

  • The energisation of areas that do not have a sufficient infrastructure
  • Energisation at costs relative to the demands of specific rural communities
  • The practical and sustainable use of renewable resources
  • Cost designed for specific modulation
  • Community involvement and ownership
  • Modulated DC Microgrid systems that can grow with the consumers’ needs
  • By 2020 there will be 1.2 billion people living in shack structures in peri-urban areas

DC MICROGRID TECHNOLOGY

WHAT IS A DC MICROGRID?a1-maxilaidout

  • A DC Microgrid is an independent system that supplies power to a defined area, from a light bulb to a building
  • It can accept power from all kinds of energy sources
  • A microgrid generates and stores power efficiently, which can be used as the demand requires
  • DC microgrid systems have a considerably faster installation process than that of the national grid systems.
  • Using renewable energy, DC microgrids provide a necessary substitute for the reliance on fossil fuels and thereby can contribute to sustainable development and the economic upliftment of a country
  • No traditional cables for grid infrastructure for DC Microgrids


HOW CAN THIS TECHNOLOGY BE IMPLEMENTED?locitv

  • Scoping of a community to assess their power requirements
  • Blueprint of product design
  • Training process
  • Management training
  • Identifying leadership
  • Installation by community
  • Strong maintenance planning
  • Income collection
  • Sustainability

DESIGN AND AVAILABILITY OF DC MICROGRIDS

ARE THERE SYSTEMS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE?

Yes, DC Microgrid Systemis the zenith of Specialized Solar Systems many years of research, testing and development in the renewable energy field.  Its design specification covers very basic to high end electrification needs with primary focus on rural and other developing areas.

The DC microgrid system also has the flexibility for added power usage and application growth with consumer progression.

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THE DESIGN PRINCIPLES BEHIND THE SPECIALIZED SOLAR SYSTEMS (SSS) MICROGRID SYSTEM

  • Proper sizing. Oversizing has been avoided because the target consumer group is extremely sensitive to overpricing.
  • Modularity. Modularity is a must because diversity and changing demand need to be handled for economic viability.  The objective is to offer solutions that can be adapted as the demand grows in the different rural areas of South Africa and Africa.
  • Technical and economic efficiency.  MMS design guidelines have included modern technical considerations of efficient energy usage. The cost analysis for the lifetime of the product has also been carefully considered. Designed for African conditions at International standards
  • Simplicity. Simplicity has been a key focus in order to ensure that the microgrids are reliable, easy to install and upgrade, easy to maintain and that costs are kept to a minimum. Simplicity of the design has also been used to encourage local support, involvement and appropriation of these technologies.
  • Safety :  Special attention has been paid to safety because the end users are not necessarily familiar with electricity. DC Microgrid technology works on low voltage DC current and therefore does not have the lethal implications of AC current, and thus is a safer form of power usage.
  • Adaptability: The DC Microgrid uses solar energy but has the capacity to be connected to the national grid and use AC current when the need arises.
  • Security: Up to 20 years warranty on modules. Pioneered and manufactured in South Africasystem-3

All DC Microgrids DB box come standard with:

  • IP 65 rated enclosure
  • 4 x Fused circuits
  • Cell Phone charger
  • Day/night auto sensor
  • 20 Amp power management and control system.
  • Solar panel imput
  • External battery connections
  • Digital voltage LED screen
  • Back up Storage for management

OPTIONAL EXTRA: Laptop input

WHAT NEEDS TO BE ESTABLISHED TO MAKE THIS VIABLE AND SUSTAINABLE IN DEVELOPING AREAS?

PRACTICAL ECONOMIC CONTROL SYSTEMS OF DC MICROGRIDS FOR DIFFERENT HUMAN DEMOGRAPHICS:  MANAGEMENT CONTROL OPTIONS

 

Depending on individual requirements, there are four economic management control variations that are available with the DC microgrid unit. Each of these has been carefully developed with our academic associations to facilitate different user’s dynamics. The models are:

 

MODEL 1: Non-Commercial Basic Starter Kit
MODEL 1 has been developed as a baseline model that anyone can purchase wanting to start with a solar power system (no income control options). It can be used for a private home or office use.

 

MODEL 2: Commercial Timer System
A 30-day timer system designed for sprawling rural areas where residents do not have easy access to pre-paid facilities. There is a monthly timer which is reset by the operator/entrepreneur.

 

MODEL 3: Commercial Pre-Paid System
This commercial system has a Watt hour control mechanism which works via a robust dongle.  With this system, an E-Spaza hub operator can supply and support 50 – 100 housing units.  (Please see editorials for more information).

 

MODEL 4: Large scale GPRS/Radio Control System
This system makes use of a control room via GPRS and/or radio frequency.  It has been developed as a nationwide solution to the on-going energy crisis and national grid overload.



WHAT NEEDS TO BE ESTABLISHED? THE E-SPAZA OUTLET

  • The E-SPAZA  offers maintenance support and sales to the beneficiary house holds, whose purchases of electricity and appliances sustain the E-SPAZA operator.
  • This E-SPAZA outlet needs to be installed to manage the process from the ground.
  • Apart from  the baseline DC Microgrid Model 1, there are 3 other models of income generation available as previously discussed.

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THE E-SPAZA OUTLET

An E-SPAZA (retail outlet) would employ three people and be responsible for a 100 microgrid electrified houses. Leadership  nominated entrepreneurs would then be identified in the community and trained in the following:

  • Maintenance procedures
  • Management principles
  • Growth adaption principles
  • Financial Management
  • Certification

The establishment of the E-SPAZA would offer:

  • Support with retail products
  • Refrigeration rental
  • Internet connectivity

And the management of:
a) ATM Banking
b) Sales of cell phone airtime
c) Data streaming
d) Training



Posted in: Editorials