Low-cost modular solar power system using Total Internal Photonic Absorption (TIPA)

Lead Research Organisation: Anglia Ruskin University
Department Name: Faculty of Science and Engineering


The UK has 90,000MW of electricity generation capacity compared to 4,000MW in Nigeria, 20 times more despite the UK having less than half the population [1]. Nigeria's national grid generates 4,500MW, peak electricity demand has risen to 14,882MW. Furthermore, only 54.3% of Nigeria's population is connected to the energy grid, whilst those connected to the grid experience power supply difficulties 60% of the time [2]. Ghana, despite having enough electricity to afford exporting to other countries, is also in an energy crisis due to unpredictable power supply to homes and industry [3].

The power supply issues experienced in these and other sub-Saharan countries exerts a significant brake on economic growth. According to the World Bank, electricity poses the second most important constraint to business activities in Ghana [4]. Renewable energies, in particular solar and hydro power, provide an extremely viable option to resolving power crises. But, despite the global growth in the solar energy market - solar can be considered on par for cost-per-kW with most other energy sources [5] - African countries continue to lag. While Africa has the best solar resource in the world, it contains less than 1% (1.92GW) of global installed solar capacity. Many African countries fail to recognise the viability of solar-power. For example, Kenya's energy regulatory body, in its "Kenya-Least-Cost-Power-Development-Plan", makes no provision for the generation of electricity. As a result, it is extremely difficult for large-scale solar projects to gain investments.

At the small-scale end of the market, adoption of solar-home-systems (SHSs) is restricted due to limited access to finance, awareness and access to technical support services. Although PV solar is now more attractive than ever before, its remains expensive for low income countries. While solar is cheap to run in the long-term, unfortunately, it's the set-up costs that hold back many African states from getting involved [6]. Photovoltaic (PV) panels are built from relatively expensive silicon based materials and shipping from overseas manufacturing, raises the costs even further.

Furthermore, PV solar panels have a modest panel efficiency of 22%, but must be installed at a particular angle of incidence to sunlight in order to achieve 22%, and require a relatively large surface area. These characteristics make it more difficult for practical installation in local markets, where specialist solar skills may be in short supply and limited outdoor space (e.g. roof) could be a problem, since domestic dwelling buildings tend to be smaller.

To address the aforementioned issues of high-cost, limited space and lack of skilled technical personnel, we will develop and bring to market TIPA - a low-cost modular solar power system based on Total Internal Photonic Absorption technology.

[1] www.edfenergy.com/future-energy/uk-energy
[2] Aliyu, 2013: Nigeria-electricity-crisis: Power-generation-capacity-expansion-&-enviro-ramifications.
[3] Adjapong, 2018: Dumsor: Energy-Crisis-In-Ghana,Stanford-University
[4] World-Bank, June-2013: Energizing-Economic-Growth-in-Ghana
[5] Clifford, 2016, Forbes: Watch-out, coal! Dubai-announces-plans-for-world's-lowest-cost-solar-plant
[6] Labordena, 2018: Sunny-days-and-solar-ways:How-Africa-must-and-should-plug-its-electricity-gap

Planned Impact

TIPA would have significant impact and benefit for countries in Sub-Saharan Africa as follows:

- We estimate that 45-55% (£9.03million) of turnover generated by the TIPA sales will flow to local supply chains, in the form of materials bought, out sourced manufacturing and installation. The intent is to develop a solution that allow the consortium to keep supply chain local, so TIPA will generate additional revenue for local economies in 2020.
- Reduce payback for the customer from 5 years to 3 years by increasing generated energy output efficiency and reducing costs.
- Successful roll-out and export of TIPA system will reinforce the UK's reputation as a leader in promoting initiative that empower underdeveloped nations to grow their own economies through technical, manufacturing and environmental innovation.

- Assist African governments to meet their energy and renewable energy targets i.e. reduce the number of homes without electricity, increase the use of renewable energy. For example, Nigeria to generate 30% of energy through renewable sources.
- TIPA will address the Energy Trilemma, through the provision of sustainable energy across the 3 dimensions: security, equity (accessibility and affordability), environmental sustainability.
- TIPA will enable the Nigerian government and REA (Rural Electrification Agency) to provide more electricity to more rural communities in Nigeria, without requirement for mains infrastructure; infrastructure which the major DisCos (Distribution Companies) will not install without significant government investment.

- A general rule of thumb is that a diesel generator will use 0.4litres of diesel per kWh produced. Every litre of fuel has 0.73 kg of pure carbon, 2.6 kg of carbon dioxide released per litre of diesel fuel. In 2026, TIPA will be directly responsible for reducing diesel consumption by 2.9million litres and CO2 emission by 2.13million kg. *Figures based on 7,300 TIPA, each generating 1,000kWh per year.
- TIPA will remove the need for women and children in agricultural communities to travel long distance, usually by foot or bicycle, to buy fuel to run diesel power generators.
- Consumers will have much greater energy security, since they will no longer be reliant on generator fuel (diesel), which isn't always in plentiful supply or easily obtainable.
- TIPA will remove the noisy and dirty diesel generators currently used, thereby providing a more relaxed, less stressful home environment; allowing families and friends to spend time together, to chat in peace, relax while watching TV or listening to radio, as well as allowing children to concentrate on school homework.
- Since consumers will no longer use diesel generators, there is no risk to their health of breathing in dangerous NOx particulate matter from the exhaust fumes.
- TIPA will deliver savings to consumers of £8.21million in the first 5 years on market.
- Roll-out of TIPA will generate jobs in manufacturing, installation and maintenance. Maintenance-related jobs will be very local to the installation site (hence spread throughout the country) and remain in place for the lifetime of the solar home system (20+ years). This long-term supply for employment, at a range of proficiency levels, will help sustain the local economy and society.
- A ready store of clean energy, for those connected to mains, for when the grid drops out.


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