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Reference Number EP/L002612/1
Title Solar Nano-Grids: An appropriate solution for meeting community energy needs?
Status Completed
Energy Categories RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES(Solar Energy, Photovoltaics) 80%;
OTHER POWER and STORAGE TECHNOLOGIES(Electricity transmission and distribution) 20%;
Research Types Basic and strategic applied research 100%
Science and Technology Fields ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (Geography and Environmental Studies) 20%;
SOCIAL SCIENCES (Economics and Econometrics) 5%;
SOCIAL SCIENCES (Sociology) 5%;
SOCIAL SCIENCES (Development Studies) 20%;
ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY (Electrical and Electronic Engineering) 50%;
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Systems Analysis related to energy R&D (Other Systems Analysis) 70%;
Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Technology acceptance) 15%;
Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Other sociological economical and environmental impact of energy) 15%;
Principal Investigator Dr E Brown
No email address given
Loughborough University
Award Type Standard
Funding Source EPSRC
Start Date 01 January 2014
End Date 30 June 2018
Duration 54 months
Total Grant Value £426,089
Industrial Sectors Energy
Region East Midlands
Programme Energy : Energy
Investigators Principal Investigator Dr E Brown , Geography, Loughborough University (99.999%)
  Other Investigator Dr R Blanchard , Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Loughborough University (0.001%)
  Industrial Collaborator Project Contact , Grameen Shakti, Bangladesh (0.000%)
Web Site
Abstract The increasing success of Solar home systems over recent years (in terms of the number of installations) is undoubted. There is now a relatively wide literature documenting the successes and limitations of different business models in facilitating the growth of the sector, as well as a growing literature documenting the immediate impacts of access to electricity via SHS upon issues as diverse as health, education, security, access to information/communications and income. What is clear, however, is that, whilst a household undoubtedly gains developmental benefits from purchasing or hiring an SHS (removing the air pollution caused by kerosene lamps, providing light for children or other members of the household to study, enhanced security, access to information etc.), the degree to which this addresses the poverty of the members of the household and, for example, their ability to generate income is far less clear. In fact, the evidence tends to suggest that it does not and in some cases actually imposes additional financial burdens. In addition, the economic advantages of SHS over other means of accessing lighting and electricity for running small appliances especially for low-scale users is not yet proven and the costs of SHS still put it beyond the pockets of many of the poorest.Within this context, the research team behind this proposal has developed the concept of Solar Nano-grids as one potential way of addressing some of the limitations of SHS. The nano-grid concept is based on the idea of the SHS, where the basic electricity needs of the households are met, but at the same time it proposes the incoorporation of some small scale agricultural or industrial applications (like irrigation). This takes advantage of the fact that houses are frequently clustered together in rural areas in groups of 15-20 houses within a diameter of less than 150m. In the proposed nano-grid system, a basic, say 1.5 to 3kWp, PV system is installed in a small cluster of households within a short radius of each other (ideally 60-70m) and power is distributed to the households from this system. This whole project has been designed as an expressly inter-disciplinary project bringing together social scientists and engineers to work together across all work packages in the project. The basic rationale for the methodology is to begin with a thorough review of current knowledge in this field relating to (i) existing experiences with community-based energy systems of the kind of magnitude envisioned in this project and (ii) the technical and socio-economic literature dealing with small-scale grid-connected solar projects and their outcomes. This will then be followed by detailed work in the two county contexts (the project will be developed in Kenya and Bangladesh, two countries with particularly well developed SHS markets) exploring experiences amongst communities with different levels of experience with SHS programmes, with very different economic or environmental characteristics etc. This will lead to confirmation of the four specific communities where nano-grid projects will be installed. This will be followed by extensive consultation within the chosen communities, the design of the system and agreement over the business model to be employed and the eventual installation and operation of the nano-grids themselves and a two year process of observation and evaluation
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 17/03/14