Creating Resilient Sustainable Microgrids through Hybrid Renewable Energy Systems

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Sch of Geography

Abstract

Universal access to affordable modern clean energy is goal 7 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs state that "Energy is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today. Be it for jobs, security, climate change, food production or increasing incomes, access to energy for all is essential." In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 625 million people have no access to modern energy services. Most African countries - 42 in all - are net energy importers and fossil-fuel-fired plants account for 81% of total electricity generation, which is mostly in South Africa. Most large infrastructure projects are public investments financed by national budgets. The estimated cost of bringing Africa's energy infrastructure to modern standard is 93 billion USD/ year. There is a huge gap between energy supply and demand in Africa, and other developing countries, that successive efforts have failed to bridge. The envisioned holistic hybrid MGs will lead to a prototype model for the creation of sustainable and resilient distribution networks for off-grid locations. This approach has the potential to enable electrification of millions of households. Both Tanzania and Uganda are low income 'least developed' countries with a high level of rural poverty and very limited grid connectivity. The Republic of Congo is classed as a lower middle income country due to its mineral wealth, but has low grid connectivity away from cities and its research sector suffers from under-investment in research capacity building

This proposal focuses on energy distribution in off-grid communities with a population of around 4000 inhabitants, a size that has been recommended by our African project partners as being the practical optimum for implementation. The research has an integrated approach to ensure that the design of the system is maintainable, has good longevity with low cost, meets diverse community energy needs and is resilient to natural hazards. The overall goal is to enable the development of sustainable and resilient energy distribution grids in rural communities of the low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) Tanzania, Uganda and Republic of the Congo, where currently at most 10% of the rural population has access to electricity. We will achieve this by designing a scalable low-cost MG infrastructure based on a novel planning methodology that incorporates real-time operational strategies and sustainable generation flexibility at the system design stage to reduce the investment requirements and increase sustainability. The MG paradigm will ensure that the research outcomes are also applicable to communities with sporadic grid connections. Building on the existing partnership platform created by the PI's five year £1.2M Royal Society renewable energy capacity building project, the present grant will enable us to realise and experimentally validate a unique, integrated, design platform that incorporates electrical network requirements with hybrid renewable energy generation sources as well as socio-economic and local community-driven considerations. This holistic approach is driven by the understanding that the creation of a truly sustainable, reliable, and locally maintainable energy distribution infrastructure needs to be focused on actual needs and local realities, beyond a purely electrical perspective. This will provide innovative distribution system configurations targeted at supporting the scalable and self-sustainable electrification of rural communities in our three partner countries. An advisory panel drawn from partners of our EPSRC Pump Priming for Global Challenge Research project will ensure that the results are also applicable to LMICs globally.

Planned Impact

The people who will benefit from this research are those without access to modern clean energy supplies. It is estimated by the African Development Bank that over 645 million Africans (about 40 per cent of the continent's population) have no access to electricity. The focus for electrification is usually on urban centres rather than rural areas due to the presence of economic and support activities: industries, financial service providers, government organizations, major educational institutions, shopping centres, etc. In general, the rural population is poorer than the urban and the economy is more hand-to-mouth or subsistence which does not allow for savings of money or obtaining assets. This means that many households cannot afford connection fees or even monthly electricity costs.

Low-income countries need to build their research capacities in order to ensure a suitably large and skilled cadre of prospective researchers and educators working on renewable energy. Governance, financing and operational arrangements are organised for centralised non-renewable energy infrastructure. This involves major capital investments and top-down control. In contrast, small-scale renewable energy systems are implemented by local businesses and community effort. Facilitation of local energy requires the uptake of innovative technology and the establishment of new legal and institutional frameworks to encourage investment and sustainable energy supply.

This project will develop an holistic approach to sustainable, resilient, micro-grids (MG). It will use state-of-the-art technology at the University of Leeds to research and create micro-grid scenarios that can be applied in realistic situations in Africa. The project will draw on field data and experience in Africa to ensure that that the MG meet realistic local needs and expectations. Through close collaboration with an existing project on capacity building for renewable energy, funded by the Royal Society and running parallel with the proposed project, integration with existing training needs and local governance and businesses will be achieved

The project will also draw on knowledge and experience from Indonesia, which has embarked on a major programme of promoting renewable energy to enhance local development through provision of universal access to clean modern energy supplies. This is particularly important for the many small islands that comprise Indonesia as a whole and these are part of the 'Iconic Islands' project for small-scale renewable energy on islands that can't be reached by large-scale energy infrastructure.The tariff regulations introduced made many investors postpone their plan to invest in the renewable energy power sector. The project will conduct research on implementation of the Iconic Islands project in two ways. Firstly by assessing the technical options adopted and examining in detail the potential for bioenergy. Secondly by analysing the governance and institutional arrangements with specific attention being paid to the question of tariffs, which has been identified as a key barrier to sustainable private sector investment. This learning experience will be transferred to the design and implementation of micro-grids in the African context.

The innovations being researched by the programme are of the scale that can be taken up by small to medium scale entrepreneurs. This offers the potential for local private sector investment to contribute to filling the energy supply gap. Training courses in the project will include entrepreneurial skills and the project will include networking with entrepreneurs. The existing partnership platform has good links with local renewable energy businesses. They will be integrated into the project from the outset.

Social and natural resource constraints for operation of the micro-grids will be an integral part of the research with the technical expertise in Leeds combined with the local knowledge in Africa.
 
Description The socioeconomic surveys are now complete for Sumba Island in Indonesia, three sites in Uganda (an island, urban and rural) and in Tanzania. The Sumba Island survey has been analysed and a paper submitted. The Uganda survey has been analysed and a paper in preparation. The Tanzania survey is in the process of analysis.

Sumba Island Survey: Household willingness to pay (WTP) for electricity supply is useful information for policy makers, energy companies and other stakeholders to plan investment in power infrastructure and design electricity tariffs. The existing literature are largely focused on household WTP for green/renewable electricity, while WTP for improving the quality of electricity supply has not been fully investigated, especially on attributes other than reliability. This study is based on the World Bank's multi-tier framework for measuring household electricity supply. A choice experiment study was conducted on Sumba Island in Indonesia to estimate household WTP for improving the quality of electricity supply in terms of four attributes: daily supply hours; frequency of unexpected power-cuts; capacity of powering medium- and high- power appliances; and monthly electricity fees. The results reveal that households in Sumba were willing to pay 6,120 Rp/month for each extra hour of electricity supply; 15,220 Rp/month and 24,240 Rp/month for avoiding once a week and twice a week unexpected power-cuts respectively; and 50,560 Rp/month and 84,620 Rp/month for improving the diversity of usable electrical appliances from low level to medium and high level respectively. Households connected to the main-grid were more willing to pay for improving the quality of electricity supply, and significant disparities were found between households in different districts. Heterogeneity of household WTP were found to be associated with gender; age; education level of the heads of households; and annual household income. The research provides a case study of household WTP for multi-attribute quality of electricity supply in developing countries and demonstrates an application of the World Bank's multi-tier framework for assessing energy access.

Uganda survey implementation: Preparatory fieldwork for this study was conducted in Feb. 2019 with a visit to the three districts to collect information for survey design. A pilot survey of 30 questionnaires was implemented before the main survey to test and revise the questionnaire. In May 2019, an enumerator team from a local research institute (The Centre for Research in Energy and Energy Conservation) conducted the main survey to interviewed a total of 906 households in 12 sub-districts of the three study districts (Figure 1): 306 households in three sub-districts (Kalangala Town, Bujumba and Mugoye) of the island Kalangala District; 300 households in five sub-districts (Biko, Muwanga, Nabwendo, Nakasegere and Nakasozi) of the inland rural Kiboga District, and 300 households in four sub-districts (Kawempe, Mukono, Namugongo and Bweyogerere) of the inland urban Great Kampala District.
Exploitation Route Too early to say (the award is still active)
Sectors Energy,Environment

 
Description The project is contributing to capacity building in our partner organisations in Uganda, Tanzania and Indonesia. A stakeholder engagement workshop was held in Jakarta, Indonesia in December 2019 to bring together policy makers, implementing agencies, community representatives and researchers from Leeds, Africa and Indonesia to discuss the project findings and preliminary outputs from the work on Sumba Island. The workshop was timed so that the outputs could feed into the Indonesian government policy for development of renewable energy mini-grids.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Education,Energy
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description 2018 UK-China (Chongqing) Knowledge Exploitation and Standardization Forum
Geographic Reach Asia 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
URL http://ukchinaconsortium.com/chongqing-conferenceworkshop
 
Description UK-China Clean Energy Partnership 2019/20 Conference, Beijing, British Embassy
Geographic Reach Asia 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Title Dataset associated with 'Bio-CH4 from palm empty fruit bunch via pyrolysis-direct methanation: full plant model and experiments with bio-oil surrogate' 
Description A promising, cleaner alternative process of thermochemical conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to biomethane is proposed and rigorously investigated via modelling and experiments for the first time. Using a conventional nickel on calcium aluminate catalyst, operated in bench scale at 1 atm, 400 °C, and with a feed molar steam to carbon ratio of 2, the Low Temperature Steam Reforming of acetic acid, representing a single compound bio-oil surrogate, achieves a promising 81.9% fuel carbon conversion to gases with a methane yield of 15.7 wt% of the feed. This compares to 21 wt% methane yield at equilibrium, thus demonstrating encouraging first time performance and scope for future catalyst optimisation. A comprehensive Aspen Plus model is developed for the first time for an industrial plant producing biomethane from palm empty fruit bunch (50 wt% initial moisture), an underused agro-industrial waste produced in vast amounts in South-East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Dependency on external heating is completely eliminated by heat recovered from combusting 25% of the gas product. Based on the simulation results of the autothermal plant, a final gas product consisting of 99.2 wt% of CH4 and 0.8 wt% of H2 is predicted with a plant thermal efficiency of 80.6%, i.e., comparable to modelled efficiencies found in the literature for wood gasification to biomethane plants that generate syngas as a necessary intermediate. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
 
Description 2018 International Conference on Intelligent Manufacturing and Internet of Things & International Conference on Sustainable Energy Engineering 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The 2018 International Conference on Intelligent Manufacturing and Internet of Things & International Conference on Sustainable Energy Engineering has launched on September 22, 2018 at Huxi Campus, Chongqing University. IMIOT & ICSEE 2018 is jointly organized by Chongqing University, Queen's University Belfast, University of Leeds and Chongqing Association for Science and Technology, with support of the government of Shapingba District and University Consortium on Engineering Education and Research. Nearly 300 delegates, including academicians, Changjiang Scholars and Outstanding Young Persons from home and abroad have attended the event. Experts and scholars different countries and regions presented in 16 sessions, sparkled a number of discussions and research collaborations. Three conference proceedings have been published in Springer's lecture notes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.springer.com/us/book/9789811323836
 
Description 2018 UK-China (Chongqing) Knowledge Exploitation and Standardization Forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The forum brought together leading figures from the government, academia and industry to discuss novel and cross-boundary approaches of collaborations and facilitation mechanism between UK and China to promote innovation and knowledge exploitation in the fields of intelligent manufacturing and revolutionary smart energy systems. In the meantime, the forum has launched the preparation event of the UK-China knowledge exploitation network, and showcases some of the latest progresses and projects in the two areas. The event was featured with distinguished guest speeches on the impact of policy, role of incubators and catapults, novel mechanisms to facilitate UK-China collaborations on knowledge transfer, sustainable innovation and knowledge transfer, and case studies of UK-China collaborations on knowledge transfer. Posters of existing and potential knowledge transfer projects from academic institutions were presented to attract further funding and investment, and a UK-China Knowledge Exploitation Network Preparation Ceremony was launched.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://ukchinaconsortium.com/chongqing-conferenceworkshop
 
Description 2019 IEEE 3rd International Electrical and Energy Conference (CIEEC2019) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Kyenote speech, 2019 IEEE 3rd International Electrical and Energy Conference (CIEEC2019), Sep 7-9, 2019, Title: Battery Storage in Shaping Low Carbon Energy Future. Around 600 professionals attended the conference, including delegates from governments, international associations, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering universities, scientific research institutions and enterprises.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Invited lecture at Hunan Institute of Engineering 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Invited lecture at Hunan Institute of Engineering, Title: 'Battery monitoring technologies', 04 December 2019. Over 60 undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as academics attend the lecture, which sparked questions and discussion afterwards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.hnie.edu.cn/website/newsArticle.jsp?columnid=0102&artid=1575939387111723699
 
Description Invited lecture at Hunan University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invited lecture at Hunan University. Title: 'Battery storage in shaping low carbon energy future', 09 December 2019. Over 30 postgraduate students and academics attended the presentation, which sparked questions and discussions afterwards. Further, international research collaborations have been planned on energy and transportation electrification.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://eeit.hnu.edu.cn/info/1203/7302.htm
 
Description Invited lecture at Imperial College London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Prof. Kang Li was invited to give a lecture titled 'The nexus of sustainable energy and manufacturing' at Imperial College London on 19 June 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://talks.ee.ic.ac.uk/talk/index/1012
 
Description Invited lecture at Southwest Jiaotong University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Professor Kang Li was invited to give a lecture titled 'Two-stage regression modelling' at Southwest Jiaotong University on 26 September 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Keynote speech at the 1st International Composite Conference on Automation and Artificial Intelligence (ICCAAI 2019), 22-24 July, Shengyang, China 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Keynote speech at the 1st International Composite Conference on Automation and Artificial Intelligence (ICCAAI 2019), 22-24 July, Shengyang, China, Title: 'The nexus of smart energy, manufacturing and transportation systems'. Over 300 delegates attended the workshop, the presentation sparked questions and discussions afterwards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Keynote speech at UK-China Innovation and Knowledge Exploitation Forum, 22 June 2019, Guangzhou 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact On behalf of the UK-China University Consortium on Engineering Education and Research, I organised UK-China Innovation and Knowledge Exploitation Forum, 22 June 2019, Guangzhou, as part of a larger international event - China Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fair 2019 (CIEF), under the theme of "Innovation and Entrepreneurship in a New Era and Sharing a New Future" held in Guangzhou from June 21 to 23. The Fair was sponsored by China Association for Science and Technology, the National Development and Reform Commission, Chinese Academy of Engineering, the Central Committee of Jiusan Society, the People's Government of Guangdong Province, and the People's Government of Guangzhou Municipality, and organized by the People's Government of Guangzhou Municipality and International Data Group. The 2019 CIEF set up over 20 exhibition areas (special zones) including international group, innovation leadership, exhibiting upwards of 1,200 projects for innovative and entrepreneurial achievements. More than 150 foreign technology companies, innovation carriers, technology associations, and research institutions from over 20 countries including the United States, Britain, Israel, South Korea, Australia, Germany, and France organized 250 projects. Over 20 special events such as road show promotion and forum salon will be held. At the launching event, 10 projects of innovative and entrepreneurial achievements have been implemented or intention of transaction has been signed.

UK-China University Consortium on Engineering Education and Research is the first university alliance on engineering education and research jointly built by China and the United Kingdom. Founded in May 2017, the Consortium was initiated by Southeast University and Queen's University of Belfast, UK. It comprises nine Chinese universities famous for engineering disciplines and six British universities under the Russell Group. The number of British universities was expanded to nine. As a key partner of this year's Fair, UK-China University Consortium on Engineering Education and Research staged a host of exciting and diverse events to promote university-enterprise cooperation and application of results.

In the forum, I also delivered 'UK-China University Consortium on Engineering Education and Research and Knowledge Exploitation Platform'. The event sparked questions and discussions, and a number of media reports resulted from the event. The event led to a number of follow-up research innovation and knowledge exploitation activities, including several major research projects, grant applications, and knowledge transfer activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.ukchinaengineering.com/RecordofActivities/
 
Description National Workshop 2019: Clean and Affordable Renewable Energy for Sustainable Rural and Remote Areas through Microgrids 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A two day workshop was held in Jakarta, Indonesia, organised by the University of Leeds and RDI, project partners on this grant. The workshop saw presentations by team members from RDI, UOL, CREEC and Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology. External speakers included those from Government Ministries, e.g. National Development Planning, NGOs such as Hivos, community heads from Sumba, the island where some of the research is taking place and aid organisations such as USAID. The workshop brought together many experts in many areas which sparked lots of debate and was an excellent networking/outreach opportunity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.rdi.or.id/snw19
 
Description Poster presentation at the Symposium on Hydrothermal Carbonization 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact 3 day International Conference
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Workshop on nexus of smart energy, intelligent manufacturing and transportation systems 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact This workshop provides a platform to share some latest studies and thoughts on the nexus of smart energy, manufacturing and transportation systems in alignment with the global effort in achieving 100% clean and renewable transition for all sectors. In additional to invited speeches and panel discussion, an early career researchers workshop and a UCEER project scoping meeting will be organised, out of which task groups for networking and consortium projects will be formed for tackling key challenging problems across the smart energy, manufacturing and transportation systems.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://ukchinaconsortium.com/leeds-workshop
 
Description Workshop on nexus of smart energy, intelligent manufacturing and transportation systems, University of Leeds, 24-25 January 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Organised the 'Workshop on nexus of smart energy, intelligent manufacturing and transportation systems', University of Leeds, 24-25 January 2019, featured with over 10 presentations and early career researcher workshop. Over 120 delegates from both academia and industry, the event has sparked questions and discussions afterwards, and following reseach collaborations have been planned.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019