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Load Management in the Developing World

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Julian Jackson's picture
Staff Writer, Energy Central, BrightGreen PR

Julian Jackson is a writer whose interests encompass business and technology, cryptocurrencies, energy and the environment, as well as photography and film. His portfolio is here:...

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  • Aug 10, 2022

Countries in the developed part of the world: America, Europe, Japan and other similar nations have developed power systems, including national grids, sufficient power suppliers for reliable 24/7 electricity and complex supply chains. Parts of the developing world do not have these existing systems. Many places have solar or wind renewables available and would benefit from moving directly to local DERs and networked systems, rather than imitating the centralized existing grids of the West.

In India, which although still developing, has a fast-growing economy, which needs ever-increasing power. Supply cannot keep up with this demand, so there are brown-outs and cuts. This causes serious problems to small-scale manufacturing and service industries. Dependency on fossil fuel-based sources for electricity supply increases the operational costs and carbon emissions. Villages in India currently receive single-phase power supply from the grid, characterized by frequent and unplanned power cuts that make it unreliable and inadequate.

The solution to this is migration to cleaner energy inputs, which addresses the issues of depleting fossil fuels, global warming and environmental damage.

Hybrid renewable energy microgrid systems have gained wide acceptance as a good solution for power-deprived rural Indian villages. Systems need to be designed to incorporate rising future loads, as well as the demand for the present time.

Rural India has an abundance of renewable energy resources, including solar, wind and micro-hydro. An off-grid system of renewable energy can serve as a scalable, appropriate and viable solution for supplying power to un-electrified or power-deficient locations. Load managing software is needed to ensure optimization of the systems. Appropriate energy planning which analyzes the supply, and a realistic evaluation of increasing demand, is essential to plan for the ever-increasing energy needs of the consumers of distributed systems energy.

Africa faces similar issues. The Nigerian power system, for example, faces many challenges, varying from overdue infrastructure maintenance, obsolete tools and appliances, insufficient electricity supply, and corruption. Only around 60% of Nigerians have access to electricity and most of these citizens (55%) reside in the urban areas. A gradual shift from conventional and legacy power plants to smart digital technologies including smart metering, distributed generation (renewable energy and microgrid), and management using software and AI-based tools is necessary.

The increase in economic activity in terms of manufacturing, increasing population and development strains the system, which is already suffering from an insufficient power supply. This enforces the population's dependency on fossil fuel-based energy sources including diesel generators, which escalates the cost and carbon footprint significantly.

Nigeria struggles with ancient power stations, several decades old, and insufficient electrification. Fortunately the country has abundant potential for renewable power, including plentiful solar, biomass, wind, hydro and tidal energy sources. In many places microgrids would make perfect sense and be more cost-effective than building power stations, and stringing a grid across long distances.

Since 2006 the Nigerian government has backed a number of projects to improve power distribution in the country and attract investment into the utilities sector. Despite some setbacks, there has been an improvement in supply and the creation of microgrids in both urban and rural areas, which has reduced dependency on diesel generators for backup power.

These two examples show how developing countries can use their natural resources wisely to bring the benefits of electrification to their citizens, particularly in rural areas, where even a small amount of power supply can ensure that people have lighting so children can do homework – avoiding dangerous kerosene lamps – bring in micro-businesses and smartphone banking, and power water wells and other beneficial devices.

Rao Konidena's picture
Rao Konidena on Aug 11, 2022

Thank you for this post. I agree that countries like India and Nigeria should focus on distributed energy resources to provide reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy. There are multiple ways to incentivize distributed energy resources. Before we talk about incentives, places like India must transparently show how much operating reserves are needed daily and which resources fill the need. Demand-side resources such as distributed energy resources must be allowed to provide those operating reserves to reduce the reliance on fossil-fueled supply resources.

Jesse Nyokabi's picture
Jesse Nyokabi on Aug 17, 2022

Many developing countries do not have pre-requisite power systems. Many places have solar or wind renewables available and would benefit from moving directly to local DERs and networked systems, rather than imitating the centralized existing grids.

Julian Jackson's picture
Thank Julian for the Post!
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