Synthesis of an off-grid solar thermal cogeneration and intelligent smartgrid control system for rural applications

Prinsloo, Gerhardus Johannes (2018-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY: Access to reliable, affordable, and modern energy services has a vital role to play in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals promulgated by the United Nations, since this factor directly impacts on 74 % of their associated overall targets. With 80 % of the global energy-impoverished population living in rural areas, it is crucial to reach these communities to solve the global energy access problem. Sub-Saharan Africa is of particular concern as 16 of the 20 high-impact countries (lowest electrification rates) are located in this region, with current endeavours not able to keep up with population growth. Microgrids are critical in solving this problem, with about 44 % of the rural Sub-Saharan Africa population gaining access to electricity by 2040 expected to be connected by microgrids. This study identifies the need for advanced village microgrid control governance to fulfil the role of smart energy systems of future Smart Villages. While R&D pathways for future Smart Grid microgrids in the Global North are well defined, there are no definitive pathways for the development of advanced microgrids in the rural village landscape of the Global South. This dissertation hypothesises that rural village microgrids should adopt their operating principles from state-of-the-art future Smart Grid developments, and tailor these to address the knowledge gap pervading in the rural village microgrid landscape. This hypothesis is based on observations of global energy market trends that indicate a likely convergence in operating methods between Smart Village and Smart City energy systems. This study applies a model-based design-thinking methodology to the conceptualisation process of a proposed microgrid platform suitable for future Smart Village microgrids. This steered the development process to observe the challenges to rural electrification from the perspective of the village energy user as the primary stakeholder while formulating a concept platform based on future Smart Grid operating principles. This study combines state-of-the-art microgrid control principles, based on transactive energy management, with innovative methods that allow for functional interaction between the microgrid system and energy prosumers in the rural village. This dissertation thus establishes the interactive-marketbased- control (i-MBC) approach at the core of the proposed next-generation Smart Village microgrid platform. The feasibility of this unique approach is demonstrated in synthesis experiments, using rural Smart Village case-based challenge scenarios. In addition to the current energy market drivers and trends that support this hypothesis, this research presents additional evidence to support the philosophy that Smart Village microgrids and Smart City microgrids can, to a large extent, share the same developmental pathway. A firm standpoint on the future of rural village microgrids is taken, as reflected and confirmed in the proposals for the Smart Village microgrid platform. This standpoint gives clear directives on the overlapping principles of Smart Cities and Smart Villages that will help researchers and energy access practitioners to select aspects of a Smart Grid R&D development program that is relevant to Smart Village microgrids.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Toegang tot betroubare, bekostigbare en moderne energiedienste speel ’n belangrike rol in die Verenigde Nasies se Volhoubare Ontwikkelingsdoelwitte, veral omdat 74 % van die doelwitte se teikens direk deur energie toegang beïnvloed word. Ten einde die wêreldwye energie-probleme aan te spreek is dit noodsaaklik om afgeleë gemeenskappe te bereik, aangesien 80 % van huishoudings sonder moderne energie in landelike gebiede voorkom. Die populasie groep in Afrika, suid van die Sahara, is van besondere belang aangesien 16 van die 20 lande met die laagste elektrifiseringsyfers in hierdie streek geleë is. In hierdie konteks is mikrokragnetwerke (“microgrids”) van kritieke belang, omdat ’n beraamde 44 % van die landelike bevolking van Afrika na verwagtig voor 2040 deur middel van mikronetwerke van krag voorsien sal moet word. Hierdie proefskrif identifiseer die behoefte vir gevorderde bedryfs- en beheerstelsels om in die vraag na landelike mikronetwerke vir toekomstige Slim Nedersettings (“Smart Villages”) in Afrika te voorsien. Daar bestaan reeds navorsingsplanne vir die ontwikkeling van Slim Kragnetwerke (“Smart Grids”) vir toekomstige Slim Stede (“Smart Cities”) in ontwikkelde lande (“Global North”), maar daar is feitlik geen sodanige planne vir Slim Nedersettings in ontwikkelende lande (“Global South”) nie. Hierdie proefskrif formuleer die hipotese dat, gebaseer op waarnemings van globale energiemarktendense, daar waarskynlik ’n konvergensie in bedryfsmetodes vir toekomstige mikro-energiestelsels van Slim Nedersettings en Slim Stede gaan plaasvind. Volgens hierdie hipotese kan gevorderde bedryfs- en beheerstelsels van toekomstige Slim Kragnetwerke dus aangepas word vir mikrokragnetwerke in landelike gebiede om sodoende die kennisgaping te vul. en gebruik ’n rekenaar-model-gesteunde ontwerpsbenadering (design-thinking) vir die konseptualisering van geskikte mikrokragnetwerk platvorm opsies. Hierdie metodologie het die voordeel dat dit die uitdagings vir landelike kragvoorsiening vanuit die perspektief van die landelike energebruiker as die primêre belanghebbende benader. Die proefskrif ontwikkel die interaktiewe, mark-gebaseerde, beheer benadering (“interactive market-based control”, i-MBC) vir volgende generasie mikrokragnetwerke in Afrika. Hierdie benadering kombineer moderne intelligente mikrokragnetwerk beheerstelsel beginsels met innoverende metodes om voorsiening te maak vir funksionele interaksie tussen die mikrokragstelsel en landelike energie verbruikers. Die uitvoerbaarheid van hierdie unieke interaktiewe-tipe transaktiewe energie bestuursbenadering word in senario-gebasseerde rekenaar sintese-eksperimente gedemonstreer. Hierdie navorsing bevind dat sekere beheer metodes van toekomstige Slim Kragnetwerke wel vir landelike mikrokragnetwerke aangepas kan word om dit geskik te maak vir toekomstige Slim Nedersettings. Die studie gee ook duidelike riglyne rakende oorvleuelende beginsels van Slim Nedersettings en intelligente mikrokragnetwerke ten einde ander navorsers, energie-praktisyns en ontwikkelings-organisasies te motiveer om intelligente mikrokragnetwerke vir landelike gebiede in Afrika te help ontwikkel.

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