Best Off-Grid Renewable System 2019

Winner: EcoInnovation for the Mohari Village Micro-hydro Project in Nepal

This entry was a project for Swiss Charity RIDS to provide a hydro solution in a very remote Nepalese village at 10,000ft (3,000m) above sea level who have never had substantive electric power before..

RIDS have been working out a new design approach to hydro power projects in the area, based on learning from the shortcomings of the previous projects. Most previous systems in Nepal use larger AC-direct turbines that typically exploit low head and high flow sites. 

This system used 6 x PowerSpout PLT HP 300V turbines as they are an ideal solution for modern rural electrification projects on a modular approach using multiple turbines, and battery storage to optimise energy usage and provide for peak AC loads.

Michael Lawley of EcoInnovation (makers of PowerSpout turbines) travelled to Nepal to oversee the installation and commissioning of the turbines. 

 

PowerSpout Pelton Turbines being carried to the Turbine House in Mohari Mohari Pico Turbine Operator showing village ladies the PowerSpout Turbines Pico Power Plant Operator Training

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Runner-up: Vector Powersmart for  the Niue Renewable Energy Project

Vector Powersmart (formerly known as PowerSmart) has completed many projects in the South Pacific since 2012, however none of these projects have involved the level of difficulty of this project with the need to integrate existing and new renewable energy infrastructure while working on a live network. This brought a number of challenges, but the result is that now 28.6% of Niue’s energy needs (measured since May 2019) are being met by renewable generation, saving approximately 130,000L of diesel‚ setting Niue up well to achieve its goal of 80% renewable energy by 2025. 

What was done?

There were four parts of the project;

  1. Working on the existing solar plants to establish communication with the Niue Central Power Station.
  2. Installing 600kW of solar to increase the islands overall solar capacity to 1.1MW of solar generation. The solar array was installed well inland on high ground to avoid any potential damage from cyclones in the future.
  3. Installing 0.80MW / 3.15MWh Tesla Powerpack 2 (BESS) at the Niue Power Station to maximise the use of solar on the island and eliminate the need to curtail solar to maintain grid stability.
  4. Installing Vector PowerSmarts bespoke Energy Management System (EMS) to manage Niue’s electricity grid by balancing the new and existing solar generation, existing diesel generators and BESS. To meet the demands of the Niue electricity grid Vector Powersmarts EMS: 
    1. Controls when diesel generators need to be turned on or off
    2. Assesses what electricity is being produced by the solar and when to use this directly to power the demands of the grid or when to send it to the BESS
    3. Assesses how much electricity is stored in the batteries and what actions need to be taken, and turn diesel generators on or off

Essentially it is the central brain talking with the original diesel generators, original and new solar arrays and the BESS to manage Niue’s electricity network. All of this had to be done while working on a live network.

Results:

Through the addition of an EMS, BESS and more solar to the network Niue can often operate without any diesel generators running for up to 10 hours at a time - on average the generators are switched off for 5-7 hours per day.  Over the last 5 months the total integrated system has resulted in 28.6% of Niue’s electricity coming from solar renewable sources, saving over 130,000 litres of diesel.

https://vimeo.com/333214433

 

600kW solar farm in Niue Vector Powersmart workers on the job 3MWh Tesla Battery in Niue

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