Energy Day at COP26, Chair in Global Challenges Jon Lovett explains why microgrids are the next big thing in energy transition infrastructure. Jon also points to collaborations across the UK and Africa that are providing the evidence.
Original author: Jon Lovett
Check out the original article here: https://climate.leeds.ac.uk/micro-grids-are-the-next-big-thing/
There has been a revolution in the generation of electricity from renewable sources. Wind, hydro, tidal, biomass, and solar generating technologies are now standard ways of supplying electricity. The shift to renewables is not only driven by concern about greenhouse gas emissions, but also because it is now cheaper to generate electricity from renewables than fossil fuels. This opens the possibility for widespread use of micro-grids and the opportunity to make a major contribution to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy.
What are Micro-grids?
They are a smaller and elevated electricity system which provides electricity to a community that might be composed of houses, a hospital, a school, shops, and businesses. Other than that, the electricity could be generated from a range of different sources which make it much cheaper to create.
A micro-grid is often contributed by solar power due to its cheap price, but they need expensive battery storage because the sun only shines during the day. Other sources could be hydropower if there is a river nearby, wind power if the community is somewhere the wind blows regularly, and biomass that is burnt or digested to power an engine through steam, gasification or biogas. A renewable energy micro-grid might be supplemented with a diesel generator or even a main grid connection to ensure a constant power supply.
Here are some of the benefits of Micro-grids:
- Micro-grids offer a way of bringing light and power to communities not connected to national grids, as well as to those who are connected to unreliable grids, and even to those with full grid connections who want to generate their own community electricity with a hybrid system.
- Micro-grids not only work for those without modern energy services, they also enable disconnection from polluting forms of generation and they can be used in the industrialised world.
Design and Planning Process
A team at Leeds has been working on the CRESUM-HYRES project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). They successfully developed an open-source software design tool called PYePLAN. Agnes Nakiganda, Dr. Shahab Dehghan, and Dr. Petros Aristidou, who created PYePLAN, have tested it in the design of a sustainable micro-grid on Alderney Island. Agnes has followed up this initial work by partnering with a team in Uganda from the Centre for Research in Energy and Energy Conservation (CREEC) to design a micro-grid for the Watoto Suubi orphanage village. The design tool is now being used by CREEC for many different applications.
The African and Leeds team have also been working with the Resilience Development Initiative (RDI) in Indonesia to transfer knowledge from the Indonesian government "Iconic Island" renewable energy programme on Sumba Island. The teams held a joint workshop in Jakarta in December 2019, bringing together more than 150 participants from 50 entities involved with renewable energy development in Indonesia. Moreover, they are also working with the Leeds Digital Education Service and the Mexican Grupo Interdisciplinario de Tecnologia Rural Apropiada at UNAM to prepare a two-week massive open online course on bioenergy for the FutureLearn platform.