Decentralized solar photovoltaic battery based mini-grid for rural electrification in Tanzania: (Is Sharing Caring?)
Access to energy enables social and economic development in rural areas. Renewable energy resource technologies such as solar photovoltaic (PV) have been integrated with mini-grids to electrify a number of remote/rural areas and reduce carbon emission. Solar photovoltaic energy has become a popular source of electricity over the decades. However, its efficiency is limited due to its intermittency characteristic caused by weather changes. Many technologies have been developed to tackle this challenge, for example, storage and hybrid systems. This thesis investigates whether decentralizing PV systems in mini-grids could reduce the inefficiencies caused by weather changes. This includes studying power interaction between decentralized locations and exploring different topology scenarios. This was achieved designing and modelling a decentralized PV battery based mini-grid in Tanzania’s rural areas where the main grid is limited.
The mini-grid was modelled using MATLAB/Simulink and OpenDSS Software. This research designed a mini-grid model connecting five different located villages with SPV arrays and battery storage. SOLCAST database was used to obtain solar irradiation. A questionnaire was used get each village’s energy requirements.
Results suggest that decentralized PV systems could reduce the effect of intermittency slightly, depending on the nature of the weather conditions of the locations. Also, this thesis has shown that grid connected mini-grids without storage could have both optimal technical and economic benefits compared to those with storage. This can be achieved when the price of grid energy is comparable or less than to PV energy. However, standalone mini-grids could be more attractive to rural areas, where the main grid is not in place, if it is sufficiently designed according to the location’s requirements.