International Applications of Microgrids
Around the world, sustainable microgrids are emerging as a vital tool in the fight against climate change and natural disasters. In the wake of hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires, traditional energy grids struggle to keep the power flowing, causing outages that slow local economies and put lives at risk.
Microgrids in Energy-Poor Communities
Microgrids, in particular solar-powered microgrids, are regarded as a reliable and viable energy solution for isolated communities.
Rural settlements in the third world often have poor, or a total lack of, connection to energy infrastructure provided by their governments or private companies in their countries. Microgrids can be set up to deliver power to these communities in an environmentally-friendly and unobtrusive way.
Microgrids can be set up at any scale, with capabilities of being upgraded further down the line. A microgrid in a small community can be developed as the community grows.
A microgrid setup can also support places of refuge in times of crisis, such as refugee camps and bases of military operations or construction projects.
The Renewable World organisation has supplied microgrids to energy-poor communities around the world. In Kenya, farming settlements around Lake Victoria have made use of microgrids to pump water to distant fields; no longer barren, these fields can now produce crops for export and consumption by the local population.
Renewable World Organisation
Renewable World is a registered charity, based in Brighton, UK. Their goal is to provide access to reliable, affordable green energy to remote and impoverished areas of the world, and to help communities be resilient to climate change.
The organisation began in 2007 as the Koru Foundation, and has evolved since then, focused on a goal of ending extreme poverty and tackling climate change by offering energy solutions to those most in need.
They work together with local partners and the communities themselves to provide what their governments and private sectors cannot: access to reliable energy.
Around 840 million people – approximately 1 in 9 people in the world – live without energy, and 87% of these live in rural areas.
In addition to living without electricity, 1 in 3 people in the world live without access to clean cooking, and 1 in 10 lack accesses to clean water. New technologies and services, including microgrids, are key to solving this.
Since 2008, Renewable World has reached 66,000 people in 102 communities with their renewable energy technologies. They have provided both access to energy and vital training to 993 farmers and smallholders, 146 small businesses, and 62 schools, clinics and community organisations.
Annually, Renewable World’s technologies have generated 1.35GWh of energy, pumping 238 million litres of water and mitigating 2008 tonnes of CO2. The effects on energy-poor global communities have been astoundingly positive.
In Nepal, new water supplies are saving women and girls from spending 3.2 hours daily collecting water from faraway sources.
In Kenya, households connected to solar microgrids have been saving 50% in energy costs, compared to their previous reliance on kerosene and petrol.
The charity sees energy as vital for communities to thrive. It is urgently needed for healthcare applications, as well as access to water, for business purposes, and for educational needs. This has proven evident; their work in Kenya and Nepal has led to more than half of the households they have reached reporting fewer illnesses and injuries.
Also at the heart of their work is climate change, another area tied into energy use. Sadly, is it these rural communities that are usually the worst affected by adverse weather and environmental degradation caused by carbon emissions. As such, their energy technologies are focused on being 100% renewable.