Last week, power and automation technology company ABB, announced plans to install an integrated solar-diesel microgrid at its premises in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The microgrid solution includes a rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) field and an energy storage grid stabiliser, PowerStore.
These will help to maximise the use of clean solar energy and ensure uninterrupted power supply even in the event of a power outage on the main grid supply, explained a company statement.
In addition, a 750 kW rooftop PV plant and a 1 MVA/380 kWh battery-based storage will be added to the existing back-up diesel generators.
This will enhance the use of renewable energy and provide continuity of supply when power supply is disrupted and during transitions from grid to island operation.
Switching to off-grid power
ABB’s installation of a microgrid solution will integrate multiple energy sources for its 96,000 square meter headquarters, as well as its medium voltage switchgear manufacturing and protection panel assembly facilities.
Claudio Facchin, President of ABB’s Power Systems division, said: “Alongside traditional and renewable generation, microgrids are increasingly being deployed to provide electricity to remote or isolated areas.
“They [microgrids] can also serve as a flexible backup source for industrial and commercial facilities and help address power disruptions.”
Opportunity for microgrid technology
According to ABB, power shortages, availability of renewable energy sources like wind and solar, fossil fuel price volatility and environmental concerns are leading to the search for sustainable solutions.
The company further stated that there are thousands of facilities across South Africa and the continent that could leverage microgrid technologies to address these challenges.
Increased consumption needs off-grid solutions
South Africa has the highest electricity consumption in the sub-Saharan region and demand continues to outpace supply.
As highlighted in a recent report by McKinsey & Company, sub-Saharan Africa will consume nearly 1,600 terawatt hours of electricity by 2040 – four-fold increase on 2010 consumption.
This is based on assumptions such as a five-fold increase in GDP, a doubling of population, electricity-access levels reaching more than 70% by 2040, and increased urbanisation.
This would imply that by 2040, sub-Saharan Africa could consume as much electricity as India and Latin America combined did in 2010.