Friday April 12, 2019,

4 min Read

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It is the year 2019 and a majority of the rural population in India still has “no access” or “unreliable access” to electricity. Centralized power generation and grid extension have failed to achieve the desired level of penetration of energy network and is not only becoming expensive but also has lot of negative effects on the environment.

Centralized grids need a huge investment and infrastructure. The environmental destruction caused by centralized a power plant is very high. In this light, there is a need for implementation of innovative solutions. Rural electrification through micro-grids by adopting distributed renewable energy generation technologies (Solar PV, Hydro, biomass, Biodiesel, wind, etc.) is considered a possible innovative solution.

What is a Micro-grid?

“Micro-grid” is a small-scale power supply network that is designed to provide power to small communities. In Micro-grids, electricity generation and utilization devices are clustered together in close proximity with or without storage devices. It enables local power generation for local loads. It comprises of various small power generating sources that makes it highly flexible and efficient. Furthermore, many villages in India have a vast amount of untapped biomass energy like oil seeds and agriculture residues. Various technologies can be used to convert the biomass energy to electricity. Microgrids can be supplied with electrical energy generated from biomass, hydro, solar.

Uses of Micro-grids

Micro-grid systems can promote “Productive Uses” of energy, in addition to meeting basic energy services and enhance possibility of achieving financial sustainability through earning profits. Productive uses encompass income-generating activities and include supply of electricity for micro and small enterprises to boost productivity in their existing activities or support founding of new types of businesses. This can also involve using electricity in agricultural production and processing, or improving energy efficiency in cottage industries. All of these activities contribute to poverty reduction and empowerment of poor by raising incomes and providing new opportunities for equitable economic growth in local economies, as well as enabling users to pay for the costs of energy services.

Productive uses of energy can also include meeting social needs such as electricity for public spaces, health clinics and schools to improve the quality of medical services and enhance education standards. All of these can enhance scope for load factor improvement, revenue generation and profits, contributing to ensuring financial sustainability of energy systems.

Objectives of  Micro-grids in remote areas:

1.     To set up Renewable energy integrated Micro-grid in a remote village

2.     Use Renewable energy resources such as solar, wind, hydro, biomass in a village

3.     Make the village self-sufficient in meeting its energy needs

4.     Make the village eco-friendly with low carbon foot print

5.     Make the energy needs reliably met and also economically viable

Micro-grid Project Implementation Methodology:

1.     Load survey in the village

2.     Assessment of various renewable energy sources viz; solar, hydro, biomass, wind

3.     Designing renewable energy systems – solar PV, Biogas, Biodiesel, Wind

4.     Integrating renewable energy systems and loads to form a Micro grid

5.     Implementation

6.     Testing

Micro-grid Project for remote villages – project description:

Renewable energy based electricity will be supplied to whole village to meet its energy needs using solar, wind, micro hydro, biodiesel integration. The energy need includes power for houses, power to lift water to the village storage tank, village street light, local hospital, grinding mill, cinema hall, community hall.

Microgrid R& D at NIE-CREST, Mysuru

Currently NIE, Mysuru, India, in collaboration with University of Wisconsin Madison, USA is set to establish micro-grids in a village hamlet of Mysuru.

Mr. S Shamsundar, Head, NIE-CREST , students &  faculty of NIE along with Dr. Giri Venkataraman, Professor  and his team at University of Wisconsin Madison, USA are working on Micro-grids for remote locations. The project has been funded by University of Wisconsin Madison under Micro-grids Partnership under Wisconsin Ideas.

Micro-grid concept opens up various technical questions, business issues and revenue responsibilities that need to be addressed. But the first step is to establish the viability of the solution through a field-demonstration. Practical solutions to overcome technical and logistic barriers will follow if the demonstration is found successful. The University of Wisconsin-Madison has initiated a two-year funded research project in collaboration with the National Institute of Engineering to create the Micro-grids Partnership for Sustainable Global Development.