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An exclusive interview with Professor Xiongwei Liu, from Entrust Microgrid of the Lancaster Environment Centre in the UK, explores smart micro-grids based on hybrid DC/AC networks, for environments with renewables. 

Prof. Liu will be speaking on this topic in more detail at the Future Energy Nigeria conference and exhibition, taking place 13-14 November in Lagos. 

What in your view are the challenges to the energy sector in Nigeria and the region?
The challenges facing the energy sector in Nigeria and broad Africa may be summarised as:
a) to secure energy supply and address energy poverty for those in need;
b) to ensure affordability of energy for the public, particularly for those in need;
c) to ensure sustainability of energy supply.

Put it in the context of current development, Nigeria and most areas in Africa are short of energy/power supply and lack of grid/gas infrastructure. Considering the technology advancement and limitations of renewable energy, particularly wind and solar energy, it is essential to develop appropriate policy and incentive scheme along with the right technology solution, so that the solutions are both affordable and sustainable.

Developing this kind of hybrid DC/AC networked smart microgrid or mini-grid interconnected with each other and with district or national grid infrastructure is undoubtedly the best solution for Nigeria and Africa, i.e. enable large scale renewable energy generation at lowest possible system cost with highest maximum efficiency. It means, solar and renewable energy is both affordable and easy to access. For the people who need it most.

How optimistic are you about business opportunities in Nigeria’s energy future?
We are extremely confident that Entrust Smart Microgrid will be the best energy/power system solution for all built environment in Nigeria and broad areas in Africa. By developing partnerships with local governmental agencies, businesses and research organisations, we believe we will have huge success in Nigeria and Africa and contribute to address the energy security/poverty, affordability and sustainability in Nigeria and broader areas in Africa. Entrust Microgrid is affordable, effective and simple – with many applications to bring clean power to the people.

What is your vision for the energy sector in the region?
Providing each and every person in the region with affordable and sustainable energy through smart hybrid DC/AC microgrid and mini-grid with a mix of energy sources including renewables, oil and gas. Like the farmer who needs water for their crops. They now have access to a reliable, efficient and affordable renewable energy that can continuously power water pumps for crop irrigation. Or a family in the city can now have air conditioning powered direct form the sun at over 98.6% efficiency with continuous running even when the electricity grid goes off.

At the upcoming Future Energy Nigeria, you are addressing the conference on “Entrust smart micro-grid based on hybrid DC/AC networks for built environment with renewables” – can you give us a sneak preview of what your message will be at the event?
The presentation will analyse the challenges facing the energy and power systems in Africa, i.e. energy security/poverty, affordability and sustainability; and the advantages and disadvantages of current energy and power systems in Africa, both traditional and renewable/clean energy/power systems.

Then analyse the issues of current commercial practice for building energy and power system, particularly the unavailability of the electricity network and its impact on solar power system, such as demanding for high cost batteries and high operational cost of diesel generators.

And then introduce the concept of hybrid DC/AC networks for built environment, including its background and potential applications for built environment in Africa. This section will answer the key question: why we need hybrid DC/AC networks for built environment in Africa.

I will then focus on the introduction of Entrust Smart Microgrid system solution, including its principle and the state of the art, the technologies and implementation for different built environment.

The presentation will conclude with the key benefits of Entrust Smart Microgrid on the end-users, the electricity network and the public. Ending energy poverty and securing energy supply at affordable price for everyone. Truly enabling Nigeria and Africa to be a truly renewable powerhouse.

What are you most looking forward to at Future Energy Nigeria?
To establish links with the local businesses in the sector and develop partnership for project development.

Anything you would like to add?
Nigeria is at a tipping point in terms of ever-increasing demand for energy yet, without the full infrastructure required to transfer energy across over 900,000 Square KM to over 180 million people. Entrust Micorgrid offers an amazing opportunity for Nigeria and Africa as a whole and we are delighted to be at the forefront of delivering Africa’s energy independence and security. For the benefit of everyone… not just the few.

 

Some background on Entrust Microgrid
Entrust Microgrid was founded by Professor Xiongwei Liu in May 2016 to promote Entrust Smart Microgrid technology and system solutions, which have been protected by a number of patents.

Entrust Smart Microgrid is a hybrid DC/AC network for built environment with embedded solar PV panels, energy storage, DC loads and EV chargers connected to the DC network. Already gaining traction in the UK, our innovative technology is a real game-changer. It means you can power air conditioning, refrigeration, heating, hot water, water pumping and electric vehicles direct from renewable power such as solar panels, at over 98.6% efficiency. All off grid… or via the grid too.

So, Entrust Microgrid is a fantastic solution for Nigeria and indeed the whole of Africa bringing highly efficient and clean renewable power to all people and all communities – without the need for large scale infrastructure or expensive grid connectivity. It is perfect for both urban and rural communities giving low or even zero cost electricity for air conditioning for people living in the busy cities as well as water irrigation for local farmers and villages. With added battery storage, Entrust Smart Microgrid allows full continuous power even when the electricity grid had outages and down time.

Before he founded Entrust Microgrid, Professor Xiongwei Liu was the Technical Director of Entrust Professional Services, Chair Professor of Sustainable Engineering at University of Cumbria, Chair Professor of Energy and Power Management at University of Central Lancashire, and has been visiting professors at Xiangtan University, Hunan University of Science and Technology, Beijing University of Technology. He has over 25 years academic and industrial experience.

Any success stories that you want to highlight?
“EnsmartHeat” system product achieved 98.6% power efficiency directly from solar PV power (power output from PV panels) for hot water or space heating, making it the most efficient system solution in the world.