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REPLACEMENT OF DIESEL GENERATORS BY SMALL PV PLANTS

J. Muoz(*), L. Narvarte and E. Lorenzo Instituto de Energa Solar. Universidad Politcnica de Madrid (IES-UPM). Ciudad Universitaria s/n. 28040 Madrid. Spain. Tel: +34 91 544 10 60 Fax:+34 91 544 63 41 E-mail(*): javier@ies-def.upm.es

SUMMARY
Following United Nations estimations, more than 2 billion people living in developing countries are not connected to any electricity grid, and around 1.7 billion people has no access to any kind of electricity source[1]. This problem is concentrated in rural regions of developing countries. In many of these areas, population uses dry batteries as the only electricity source, and in others, population has turned to the installation of diesel generators. However, despite a rough decentralised diesel power of 15 GW[2] has been installed in such countries, these generators have several disadvantages related with their performance, their ecological impact, and their limitations in satisfying users needs. The utilization of PV solar energy as a solution for rural electrification dates back to the 70s and it has shown its potential just in the diesel generators weakness: reliability, renewable energy and user acceptation. This paper presents a pilot project of replacement of diesel generators by small PV-Hybrid plants in two remote rural villages in the south of Morocco, which are in operation since October 2002. The good managerial skills of local associations and our close following of the pilot experience allow us to present the first results and lessons learned, especially, those related with the performance of the plants, the electricity consumption of population and the managerial aspects that contribute to the sustainability on this kind of small PV plants.

1. INTRODUCTION This pilot project is in line with a PV rural electrification programme that is being implemented since 1995 in the provinces of Ouarzazate and Zagora, in the south of Morocco. Although this programme focuses on PV water pumping[3] (there exists already more than 20 PV pumping installations with almost a total of 75 kWp), our presence in the area evaluating this programme allowed us to disclose adequate circumstances for PV rural electrification. Firstly, in most of visited villages we found diesel generators supplying electricity through local mini-grids to the dwellings during 3 or 4 hours/day. These kinds of systems, of collective property, are managed by local associations that collect monthly the money corresponding to electricity consumption. The register of consumptions leads us to estimate the mean family consumption around 12 to 15 kWh/month, whose cost is roughly 5 to 6 , i.e., three times the cost of conventional grid electricity. It is worth to note that, to this cost, it is necessary to add the punctual and important payments when the frequent breakdowns occur. The continuous operation of this kind of systems for more than 20 years gives and idea of the great organisational ability of the population of this region. Secondly, the service of electricity is very poor, in terms of availability and power quality, which have caused a spontaneous PV market (some families have installed SHS by their own) and the use of small private diesel generators during the daytime. These reasons lead us to implement two pilot PV-Hybrid plants that provide AC power to dwellings and to community services (public illumination, water pumping, etc.) through a low-voltage mini-grid. The existing diesel generators have been recycled as energy backup. 2. DESCRIPTION OF THE PROJECT 2.1 PV-Hybrid power plants The plants are composed by the following elements: a PV generator (9.24 kWp), a charge regulator/battery charger, a stationary battery bank (96 V, C20=1200 Ah), a sine wave inverter (10 kVA, 230V/50 Hz) and a diesel generator (12 kVA). These elements are arranged in a switched hybrid configuration, just like the figure 1a shows. The AC supply is distributed to the consumers through an underground minigrid that has been designed to be compatible with a future arrival of the utility grid. In

such case, all the electricity company have to do is connecting the grid to the local mini-grid in the output of the power plant, while the mini-grid and the indoor electrical installations of the dwellings can be reused. The users have been responsible for the last ones, installing them according to the regulations of the national utility (ONE) and including a residual current device and an earthing electrode. Each dwelling has a connecting box composed by a low-cost Ah meter[4] and fuses for power limitation (see figure 1b).
Charge regulator/ Battery charger Diesel backup 12 kVA

PV generator 9.24 kWp

Mini-grid 230V / 50Hz

Inverter 10 kVA Battery bank 96V / C20=1200Ah

(a)

(b)

Figure 1. (a) PV-Hybrid switched plant. (b) Connecting box of each dwelling.

2.2 Electricity service, management and sustainability The introduction of an energy rural service whose appearance is very similar to the conventional utility grid must face up to the uncertainty of which will be the reaction of the population in terms of energy demand. This doubt led us to attempt a methodology to control the increase of energy consumption based on the application of an electricity tariff and on the adoption of several precautions. On one side, the monthly electricity bill is composed by a fixed tax (1.5 /month) plus the energy consumption. The price per kWh is progressive according to the increase of energy consumption such as follows: 0.35 /kWh (first 10 kWh), 0.5 /kWh (next 7 kWh) and 1 /kWh (the rest). On the other side, some of the implemented precautions are the following: electricity service limited to 14 hours per day, control of allowed appliances (cookers and heaters are forbidden), use of fluorescent lamps, right of installing energy dispensers in those dwellings with excessive consumption, etc. All these

mechanisms have been previously accorded with the local associations and they would be revised according the evolution of energy consumption. Local associations, created in the frame of this project, are responsible for registering the monthly energy consumption of each dwelling, collecting the service fees and ensuring the previous agreements are observed by the population. The electricity bill is not intended only as a means of controlling the energy consumption, but also is required to ensure the long-term sustainability of the systems. Our proposal in this issue relies on the supra-local management of collected money and on the contracting of a long-term maintenance service. The first one attempts ensuring these funds are exclusively devoted to the maintenance service and also is intended to avoid misappropriation. For this purpose, the money collections from PV-hybrid power plants and also from PV pumping systems are credited into a bank account managed, in our case, by a local NGO partner. 3. FIRST RESULTS 3.1 Operation of the PV-Hybrid plants The global operation of the power plants is being followed by means of several energy counters that are daily registered by an operator of the local association. The figure 2a shows the monthly energy consumed by the loads (dwellings and street lighting) since November 2002 until June 2003.
800 [kWh/month] 600 400 200 0 Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Month

Performance parameters
Villages: Idboukhtir Iferd

[kWh/daykWp] Reference yield (YR) Array yield (YA) Final yield (YF) Capture losses (YR- YA) System losses (YA- YF) Performance ratio (YF/ YR)

Idb. 6.18 2.45 1.12 3.73 1.33 0.18

Iferd 6.23 3.10 1.85 3.13 1.25 0.30

(a) (b) Figure 2. (a) Energy to dwellings and street lighting from November 2002 to June 2003. (b) Performance parameters of the power plants[5] (Period: December-January 2003).

During April and May 2003, the electricity consumption in Iferd village has decreased owing to an inverter breakdown and the temporal return to the diesel

electricity service (4 hours per day). Additionally, an analytical monitoring[5] was applied in both plants for two months in order to perform a deep study of such installations and detect possible anomalies. The figure 2b shows the performance parameters during this period. The high capture losses are due to the operation of the charge regulator caused by a full recharged battery, which indicates the PV energy resource is nowadays enough to supply the energy demand. 3.2 Energy consumption The figure 3 shows the distribution of dwellings according to their average monthly energy consumption. As can be seen, the adopted precautions, specially the penalty for consumptions higher than 17 kWh/month, have contained the average monthly consumption below this limit. The mean consumption per dwelling is 5.8 and 7.9 kWh/month for Idboukhtir and Iferd villages, respectively.
Number of dwellings Number of dwellings 30 20 10 0 Empty C<10 10<C<17 25 60 46 40 25 20 8 0 Empty C<10 10<C<17 1 C>17

4 0 C>17

Average monthly energy consumption per dwelling (C), in [kWh]

Average monthly energy consumption per dwelling (C), in [kWh]

(a) (b) Figure 3. Average monthly energy consumption of dwellings according to the electricity tariff. (a) Idboukhtir. (b) Iferd.

It is worth to mention both populations use the electricity for lighting, radio and television. However, they started the project with different energy habits because of the previous means of electricity supply: SHSs in Idboukhtir (mean consumption of 150 Wh/day) and a diesel mini-grid in Iferd (mean consumption of 260 Wh/day, 4 hours/day service and inefficient appliances). Owing to the control of energy consumption, the initial agreement with local associations will be revised soon. On one side, the energy service will be increased until 18 hours/day, keeping in mind the full-time service as a final goal. On the other side, we are studying the possibility of

allowing the use of refrigerators, initially forbidden, which are being demanded by the population. 4. CONCLUSIONS First results of a pilot project of replacement of diesel generators by small PVhybrid power plants using grid-compatible mini-grids have been presented. Amongst these results, it is worth to mention the methodology used to control the evolution of energy consumption based on the application of an electricity tariff and on the gradual introduction of the service (duration, allowed appliances, etc.) has produced the desired effects. As a result, these mechanisms of control, initially accorded with the local associations, will be revised after an operating year in order to increase the hours of service and the allowed appliances. Regarding the long-term maintenance of these plants, we are trying to concentrate in the region enough PV installations to make this business attractive for a private company. In 2004, thanks to a MEDA project[6], we will reach roughly 50 installations with almost 225 kWp, and then, we will be ready to tackle the negotiation of this maintenance contract. In the future, the experience acquired in this project must result in a proposal of standardisation of small PV-hybrid plants including both, technical and non-technical issues.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This pilot project has been possible thanks to the funding of the International Spanish Cooperation Agency (AECI). The authors would like to thank the cooperation and work of projects partners: the NGOs CIPIE (Spain) and Tichka (Morocco) and the company Isofotn. REFERENCES
[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] UNDP. World Energy Assessment: Energy and the challenge of sustainability. (2000). W. Kleinkauf et al. Electrification with Renewable Energies-Hybrid Plant Technology for Decentralised Grid-compatible Power Supply. Solar Energy Research Assoc. Germany (1997). A more detailed information about this programme can be found in www.ies.upm.es. This Ah meter, developed by CEPEL-Eletrobrs (Brazil), is officially approved by the Brazilian government for the electricity metering of low power grid-connected consumers. G. Blaesser, D. Munro. Guidelines for the Assessment of Photovoltaic Plants Document A. Photovoltaic System Monitoring. JRC Ispra. 1995. Implementation of a PV water Pumping and Purification Program in Mediterranean Countries. SMAP Programme. European Comission.