According to several estimates, even today, almost a billion people globally lack access to reliable, 24×7 electricity. Most of these people either live in remote settlements or on islands which are far away from the nearest major town. While governments make an effort to expand the main national grid to cater to these far flung communities, often the cost of grid expansion is prohibitive due to the distances involved as well as geographical constraints such as hilly terrain or water bodies. Additionally, even when the mainland grid has reached these communities, maintenance of the transmission infrastructure for a small community becomes very expensive.
Renewable Energy based localized mini-grids are a clean and cost effective way to power these communities using solar power and energy storage. These mini-grids can also be integrated with other generation sources like biomass or diesel generators for peak loads or emergencies.
Last year, AHE set up a complete rural mini-grid in Rehatyakheda, a remote village in the Melghat region of Maharashtra, India approximately 70km from Amravati, the nearest town. Home to over 80 families, the village did not have access to electricity for the past 7 decades.
Funded by the Maharashtra Energy Development Agency (MEDA), AmpereHour Energy installed a 30kWp PV plant, a 25 kW/86 kWh, single phase Li-ion energy storage system (ESS) and set up local transmission lines and metering systems to pave the way for 24-hour energy access in the village. The PV+ESS system is a clean solution that provides electricity from solar energy during the day and utilizes excess solar energy to charge the battery. During evenings and nights, the battery is discharged to support the electrical load of the village. Local volunteers have been trained in the basic operation of ESS and can run the system without any hassle.
24-hour electricity access benefits communities both in terms of improved living conditions as well as new economic opportunities with the setup of flour mills and other cottage industries. Isolated, localized mini-grids can provide a quick, cost-effective way to benefit remote communities today and can be integrated into the main grid as distributed energy resources (DERs) when the mainland grid eventually reaches these far flung locations.