June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
Energy Conversion and Conservation
This paper describes details of a hands-on student-centered summer project in Africa. The paper first examines the difference between microgrids and centralized power networks and discusses the suitability of microgrids for providing electric power to rural communities in developing countries. Next, the advantages and disadvantages of employing AC and DC power in microgrids for developing regions are discussed with regards to expected loads, generation sources, transmission/distribution efficiency, stability and control, protection and safety, and reliability and maintenance, with the conclusion that DC microgrids are better suited for developing communities. A practical methodology for selecting optimal distribution conductor sizes is presented, and a novel DC home hookup module is discussed, which provides metering and 12V and 5V service to a home for a cost of about $30. The microgrid design principles developed in the first half of the paper are then applied to an actual case study of Lingbinsi, Ghana, an agricultural community consisting of 267 homes. A step-by-step design approach for the microgrid is presented, resulting in a microgrid design using about 13kW rated capacity of photovoltaic panels and about 40 kWh rated capacity of battery storage with a total lifetime cost of about $133,000. The microgrid supplies 15W of power to each home for five hours per day to provide basic lighting and charging needs and delivers power to a water tower pump that provides enough water for the entire village. The microgrid material, maintenance, and installation costs can be supported by household energy payments that are 17-47% less than current average lighting costs in the region, depending on the financing strategy, while also providing enough power for a water pump. This indicates that the microgrid is highly affordable to the community. The project and its outcomes can be adapted to serve as a practical senior design project and/or a case study in renewable energy systems courses.
Salehfar, H., & Klein, M. (2019, June), A Highly Practical and Affordable Microgrid Design Project for Developing Rural Communities: Case Study in Ghana Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/31960
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