Somaliland’s power grid supplying the city of Berbera, home to the largest port in the horn of Africa, is being monitored and controlled using microgrid technology.
The microgrid consists of two solar plants with a total capacity of 8MW, a containerised lithium-ion power storage system with a capacity of 2MWh and three modern diesel generators. These were combined in the Berbera Electricity Company (BEC) utility grid.
This has enabled BEC to reduce the electricity tariff in Berbera, which is now the lowest in Somaliland and the Somali-Peninsula overall.
The large-scale expansion project, hosted by DHYBRID technology and with the help of its international partner teams and remote commissioning, was able to be completed in just six weeks. This timeline is despite the ongoing pandemic and extensive global logistics challenges.
Installed microgrid pushes boundaries for port city
Somalia and the Republic of Somaliland are among the countries with the highest energy prices in the world. The electrical power generation system primarily consists of isolated city grids of diesel generators.
At the same time, demand for electrical energy only continues to grow as infrastructure rapidly expands. The port of Berbera, for example, is envisioned to improve the flow of goods to Ethiopia with its more than 100 million inhabitants and is currently being expanded at a cost of almost half a billion dollars.
Additionally, Berbera has its own airports to which Berbera Electricity Company (BEC) also supplies power.
To improve the energy supply, solar photovoltaic power plants are being built in Somaliland to supplement the existing generators, in addition to other measures. But this development poses major challenges for the power grid.
Benedikt Böhm from DHYBRID, explains: “Various generators within the grid must be continuously coordinated, especially when renewable energies are involved. Otherwise, problems with the grid frequency and voltage will become unavoidable, making it impossible to utilise all the available power.”
He adds: “It is simply not enough to just consider the solar capacity available. Effective grid management is essential.”
UPP coordinates decentralised generators
Ibrahim Yaqub, CEO of BEC, said: “The requirement was clear: Berbera needed a scalable energy supply that could be monitored and managed centrally within the shortest time frame possible. The DHYBRID Universal Power Platform has succeeded in both, power quality and grid performance have increased considerably as soon as everything was up and running.”
Berbera’s overall city grid’s power factor has now increased by 20%. This has significantly improved the distribution load bearing capacity and power generation efficiency. Moreover, the discontinued use of large quantities of diesel fuel has made Berbera the largest city powered by renewable energy in Somaliland. What is more, the city now operates the largest battery energy storage system in the country.
BEC now uses DHYBRID’s open-technology Universal Power Platform (UPP) as a process control system and monitors its energy grid with the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system from the very same microgrid specialists based in Germany.
The company’s lithium-ion storage system can be operated either alongside the grid or as an integrated part of it. In this operating mode and in conjunction with the UPP, it almost completely eliminates grid instability and disturbances due to multiple effects of growing electrical demand profiles.
This project in Somaliland is one of the first in the world to use the company’s patented Maximum Inverter Power Tracking (MIPT) technology to increase the share of solar power in microgrids.