Cost-effective electrification of remote houses and communities with renewable energy sources

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Hybrid energy systems play a critical role in the electrification of remote dwellings. Currently, many residents in remote areas have no connection to the electricity grid and rely on standalone power systems driven by diesel generators. The integration of hybrid renewable energy sources has become an attractive solution to enhance power system capabilities, cost savings and environmental performance in recent times and hence provides a potentially cleaner alternative to diesel generators. However, effective operation of hybrid alternatives in such ways requires the careful configuration and operation of multiple power sources. This paper explores a hybrid system that involves a combination of renewable generation, battery energy storage and a diesel backup generator as a non-renewable energy source to supply electricity to rural areas. Easy-to-apply analysis and design rules are developed and discussed, which when applied can ensure adequate capacity to cover loads while retaining cost-effective operations in such off-grid situations. A case study considered is for a remote village in Malar, in the Awaran District of Baluchistan province in Pakistan. The hybrid renewable energy system is designed using the specified procedures and the Homer-pro software and simulated to determine the optimal cost for various combinations of renewables under different cases in comparison to the use of diesel generator as a raw base case. Building Energy optimization (BEopt) software is used for the creation of representative load profiles that reflects the consumption pattern of the remote household dwellers under consideration. Extensive simulation results demonstrate the effectiveness of the hybrid system, and the obtained results indicate a significant reduction in energy cost post initial outlay. The effective cost of energy under the hybrid system of various combination of renewables is computed to be $0.171kWh, whereas the effective cost for the diesel generator system is $0.467kWh, resulting to 63% difference in energy cost. Similarly, this is reflective of the Net Present Cost (NPC) of Diesel Generator which is approximately thrice that of a hybrid system. The paper concludes by observing that even in the absence of financial instruments to support renewable and storage technology procurement and installation, design rules and configuration guidance tools such as that described in this work can increase the Rate of Return (ROR), and hence larger benefits for rural communities wishing to decarbonize and reduce long-term costs can be leveraged.
Original languageEnglish
Article number030008
Number of pages9
JournalAIP Conference Proceedings
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2023
Event3rd International Conference on Robotics, Intelligent Automation and Control Technologies - Online, Chennai, India
Duration: 23 Sept 202225 Sept 2022

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