IEEE Electrification Magazine - March 2015 - 10

TEchNOLOGY LEaDErS

in Narok County, Kenya. The village
has a population of about 1,000 people and is home to roughly 100 busiPortable Battery Kits
Solar home Systems
nesses. In general, the shops and
Dedicated PBKs can be incorporated
SHSs, along with solar lanterns, have
households utilize kerosene for their
with energy kiosks. A PBK typically conbecome a significant part of the solulighting, and a few businesses have
sists of a rechargeable battery in a rugtion space for rural electrification
small gasoline generators (1-3 kW)
gedized case with several access ports
needs. SHSs typically consist of PV
that they use to power appliances
to allow for mobile phone charging,
panel(s); battery; charge controller; and
such as refrigerators, blow dryers, telelighting, or plug-in inverters. Larger
ports for lights, mobile phone charging,
visions, and sound systems. While the
PBKs also come with outlets for runand other appliances. SHSs come in a
national grid in Kenya has been
ning small home appliances like fans
wide range of capacities-typically
expanding fairly aggressively over the
and radios, although they are usually
fewer than several hundred watts-
past years, the town of Ololailumtia is
not included as part of the kit. PBKs are
and most use battery chemistries that
75 km from the nearest Kenya Power
available in different capacities and
are similar to those in PBKs.
and Light lines and is at least several
chemistries. Sizes from 3 to 18 Ah up to
In contrast to PBKs with PV panels,
years from any grid connectivity.
even 48 Ah are available depending on
SHSs are designed to be stationary, with
Two microgrids were installed in
design and usage concept. The nominal
larger capacities, and sometimes serve
Ololailumtia in 2014 by PowerGen
up to ten households. Because of this,
voltage is usually 6 or 12 V. The most
Renewable Energy-a Kenya-based
SHSs are sometimes interchangeably
common PBK battery chemistries are
company providing renewable energy
called "mini dc microgrids." However,
sealed lead acid and lithium iron phosservices to residential, commercial,
some SHSs can also be ac based with the
phate. PBKs can cost anywhere from
and community-based clients in addiaddition of an inverter. DC SHSs are more
US$15 for the smaller 3-Ah battery systional to installing and operating
popular due to lower operation and
tems to roughly about US$160 for larger
microgrids. The microgrids in Olo20-Ah systems. Most PBK syslailumtia connect 30 customtems cost between US$5/Ah
ers in the community, includand US$8/Ah.
ing several small businesses
Most PBKs can be charged
such as phone-charging
from a small PV panel, which
kiosks, restaurants, hair salons,
can be purchased from the
and general stores. The grids
PBK manufacturer. Thus, most
do not connect everyone in the
PBKs can be used indepencommunity but instead focus
dently of an energy kiosk. The
on connecting pockets of
upfront cost of purchasing a
households and businesses
PBK with a solar panel and the
that expressed a high level of
perceived risk of the investinterest in, need for, and willment are real obstacles for vilingness to pay for electricity.
lagers, making rental or lease Figure 3. The steel PowerBox housing the power components
The second grid, Ololailumtia
programs from an energy with the 1.5 kW of PV panels on top. (Source: PowerGen.)
Microgrid 2, was added to the
kiosk an attractive alternative.
community after demand
maintenance costs. However, they can
Some PBKs can be recharged from
from the first grid proved strong. As
only run dc appliances, which tend to be
a standard outlet through an ac/dc
demand increases further, additional
more expensive than their masspower supply. This method is often
grids may be added or the capacity
produced ac counterparts.
preferred over direct charging by PV if
and customers connected to the curPayment schemes vary for SHS. Renta suitable ac supply is available, for
rent grids may increase depending on
to-own schemes, metered pre- or postexample by an inverter. The PBK
where the demand is geographically.
pay schemes, and schemes based on the
industry is trending toward so-called
The two grids installed in the
capacity of appliances connected to the
"smart" PBKs that can be remotely
community each incorporate 2.1 kW
SHS exist.
monitored, disabled, and even located.
of PV and a 9.6-kWh sealed lead-acid
PBKs are mostly manufactured in
battery bank. Although sealed leadcase Study:
China and to a lesser extent in India.
acid batteries are more expensive on
Ololailumtia Village microgrid
Most of these PBKs are retailed in
a watt-hour basis, the remoteness of
Ololailumtia Village is located adjaAfrica where they are being used
Ololailumtia placed a premium on
cent to the Maasai Mara game reserve
extensively independently or along
lower-maintenance equipment.
pricing model avoids meters and can
be more intuitive to customers.

10

I E E E E l e c t r i f i cati o n M agaz ine / march 2015

with the energy kiosks for rural electrification needs.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IEEE Electrification Magazine - March 2015

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