Advanced electrification for remote urban areas
Microgrids are small-scale electrical systems that replicate large electrical systems; both, in the way they are managed and often also in the quality of the energy they generate. So, we differentiate between what at Norvento we call “microgrids” from the small isolated systems that have existed for a long time and were usually fed by a diesel generator. Present technologies and their costs allow a microgrid to supply a load or a group of loads at a lower cost than a solution using just diesel groups. Moreover, and for the satisfaction of those who work in this field, this can be achieved by the integration of renewable generation and energy storage systems.
Renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind, do not need raw material other than the sun and the wind, which are always present —to a greater or lesser extent—. So, renewable microgrids are ideal solutions to electrify remote areas without distribution grids, due to financial or geographical reasons, or where fuel supply is complex. They are also perfect for electrified areas where the grid quality is poor, because of poor investments or of a complex meteorology with strong storms or hurricanes, for example.
In Germany, there is an example of a local-scale microgrid, in the town of Wildpoldsried, Baviera, to be precise. In this municipality, of about 2,500 inhabitants, energy is generated by solar, wind, biogas and mini-hydro technology with the back-up of two diesel groups and energy storage. Even though it could be off-grid, the microgrid sells the energy surplus to the grid and receive a payment for that. Click here if you want to know the generation of this pilot local-scale microgrid in real time.
In Spain, we also have a local-scale microgrid project, in planning stage: the microgrid that will supply the village of Aras de los Olmos, in Valencia. The Universidad Politécnica de Valencia is working in the technical design of the project. In this case, Aras de los Olmos is located at the end of a distribution line with a lot of incidents, above all in stormy days. So, they want to take advantage of waste materials from local cattle farms, of a small waterfall in a river and their solar resource to supply energy to its inhabitants.
However, where renewable microgrids can make a real difference for their users and can significantly contribute to the energy transition is in those countries with underdeveloped transportation and distribution infrastructure. That is what happens in some rural areas of India where there are interesting cases, such as the one of the company OMC Power that is magnificently shown in this video.
At Norvento, we develop technology to make the implementation of microgrids easier; such as: power electronic converters specifically designed for this application or microgrid control systems. We are convinced of their potential and we even have two microgrids at our own headquarters, the CIne building, located in Lugo, Spain. One of the microgrids supply electric energy to the building and the other is an experimental microgrid we use to test the new developments of our engineers.
Inmaculada Saboya Bautista
Inmaculada holds a PhD in Electrical Energy from Universidad Pontificia de Comillas and forms part of Norvento’s microgrid and grid studies team. Contact Inmaculada.