Sustainable electricity mini-grids plan for Africa
Feasibility study into solar and wave power in Africa led by University of Bradford
Engineers from the University of Bradford will investigate whether electricity ‘mini-grids’ powered by sustainable energy could be installed in Nigeria.
The University of Bradford is working with Nortech Management Ltd, Bayero University, Kano and Renewable Energy Agency, Africa on a £300,000 feasibility study funded by Innovate UK to ascertain whether such schemes could be viable.
If they are, further funding will be sought to begin a pilot project. If that succeeds, it is hoped similar schemes could be used across Africa, creating jobs there and in the UK. Crucially, the project aims to use solar power to generate electricity.
Geev Mokryani, Senior Lecturer in Electrical Power Systems in the Faculty of Engineering & Informatics, said “At the moment, we are conducting a feasibility study to look at whether it’s possible to install a series of electricity ‘mini-grids’ powered by sustainable energy and then stored in units. The work will be looking at where mini-grids could be installed and how big they could be.
“There are lots of challenges to overcome, for example finding suitable battery technology to store electricity and ensuring mini-grids do not adversely impact existing grid networks.”
It is estimated that up to 40 per cent of Nigeria is unable to access secure and clean electricity and the country is increasingly reliant on fossil fuels. Project Pi-CREST (Planning, integration and Control of mini-grids with Renewables and Energy Storage) will develop modelling tools to overcome uncertainties in planning and operation of local energy systems.
It is hoped the Pi-CREST tool will enable access to cleaner, low cost and sustainable energy to unserved and underserved regions across sub-Saharan Africa, starting with Nigeria.
The project is funded by Innovate UK under the Energy Catalyst competition round 7.