Smart Grids for Small Grids

Do you remember the last time we reported about the importance of open source approaches for making progress on SDG7 (affordable and clean energy)? Well, WISIONS has recently started supporting a project co-ordinated by Green Empowerment that aims to develop open source mini-grid management tools for optimising the use of renewable power, enabling rural communities to power more electrical appliances.

Green Empowerment is collaborating in this project with regional partners SIBAT (the Philippines) and TONIBUNG (Malaysia) to develop and test open source tools that make renewable energy mini-grids smarter and more reliable. The project derives from and builds on previous successful experiences leading to the development of open source Electronic Load Controllers.

ELCs are devices that stabilise the energy supply by enabling turbines to run at a constant power output, with excess power diverted to artificial loads (ballast). To avoid this unused energy being wasted, the new open source tools will enable useful, but not crucial, appliances to be powered when electricity demand across the whole mini-grid is lower than the amount of electricity generated. Equally, these non-essential appliances will be automatically switched off when all the energy in the mini-grid is required to power primary appliances. For example, a community could establish a laundrette service with pay per use washing machine(s) that are only activated when the grid has available capacity, either by queuing the washing machines or by prohibiting their use at certain times of the day. This would allow the available energy to be used with maximum efficiency, directly improving socio-economic conditions in remote communities.

This project uses a similar approach to the previous project (which led to the development and dissemination of the open source ELC). The project is being implemented in close cooperation with practitioners working in the communities and will ensure full access to the technology: all the knowledge and design materials will be made available online, as per the establishment of ELC Wiki. The provision of the open source ELC data has already yielded good results, allowing remote communities to design and repair their ELCs together with local practitioners and avoid high costs.

In other words, soon you’ll be able to complement your self-built ELCs with a home-produced load management system!

Watch the webinar for further information about the project:

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