IEEE Electrification Magazine - March 2015 - 11

The Ololailumtia grids each use a
such as kerosene, candles, and small
3-kW inverter to generate ac electricigenerators while still offering a return
ty from the battery bank. The inverton investment for PowerGen.
ers are high quality and produce a
The metering technology has a circlean sinewave output, which enables
cuit board with a SIM card that sends
the use of a broad range of appliances.
periodic status updates on each cusEach microgrid, including the distributomer's energy consumption to the
tion wiring and installation, cost
cloud. The metering system also
about US$15,000.
interfaces with a relay on each line to
The components are housed in steel
enable automatic shutoff of the lines.
enclosures ("PowerBoxes"), which
When a customer's balance goes to
Figure 4. The distribution cabinet with the
require a key to access, as shown in
zero, the cloud-based account manbreakers, meters, and relays. (Source: PowerGen.)
Figure 3. The PV panels are mounted
agement system sends a signal back
atop the boxes roughly 3 m above the
to the metering system in the Powerground. Barbed wire and locking bolts
designed as a starter kit so that cusBox to shut off that customer's line
are used on the PV panels to deter theft.
tomers could immediately begin using
until he/she tops up their account
The PowerBoxes have cabinets built
electricity. The customers were free to
again. All of this information is disinto their exterior walls that house the
further wire their premises from the
played on an online interface for the
distribution boards and breakers from
breaker on the POU board-and most
convenience of the grid operator.
the grid, as shown in Figure 4. These
of them did.
The metering technology also colcabinets allow a local electrician to
Once connected, customers prepay
lects data on the battery voltage
access these components without havfor their energy through the ubiquitous
throughout the day as an indication of
ing full access to the power electronics
mobile money platform used throughthe state of charge, allowing the batinside the PowerBoxes.
out Kenya called M-Pesa ("M" for mobile
tery condition to be monitored. If the
The PowerBoxes have small footand "pesa" meaning money in Swahili).
voltage drops too low, the inverters in
prints and are located on land rented
This service allows customers to deposthe PowerBox will stop producing
from private landowners. The landit cash into their M-Pesa account
power until the voltage rises again to a
owners are paid rent on a monthly
through a local agent and then send
preset level. During the rainy season in
basis and receive free nighttime LED
this cash to other M-Pesa users or busiJune, PowerGen upgraded the original
lighting from the PowerBoxes, as
nesses. In this case, they send money to
1.5-kW PV arrays at both grids to
shown in Figure 5.
PowerGen's business till number to pre2.1 kW to compensate for lower insoArmored cables run from the dispay for electricity. Customers are
lation levels. The average load profile
tribution boards to the dozens of
charged between US$2 and US$5/kWh,
and battery voltage are shown for
customers of the two microgrids in
with the lower rates applying when
both grids in Figure 6. Interesting to
Ololailumtia through trenches that
larger quantities of energy are purnote is the different pattern of energy
run along the streets in the village.
chased. The energy is priced to be less
usage at the two grids. Ololailumtia
The grids are of the hub-and-spoke
expensive than existing alternatives
Microgrid 1 has a higher number of
type and, thus, only serve
shops, phone-charging busicustomers within a radius of
nesses, and salons contributroughly 150 m.
ing to high daytime loads.
Customers paid a small
In contrast, Ololailumtia
connection fee of roughly
Microgrid 2 has several bars,
US$12. This fee was low
a video hall, and a lodging, all
enough to not pose a signifiof which use power predomicant barrier to connectivity
nantly at night.
for residents of Ololailumtia
It is estimated that the
but high enough to represent
microgrids are capable of
some level of commitment
p ro d u c i n g m o re t h a n
to demand for energy.
8 kWh of energy per day
Each customer was proeach. However, only 3-4 kWh
vided with a point-of-use
per day is being consumed.
(POU) board that included a
PowerGen is taking steps to
Figure 5. A PowerBox similar to this one in Narok County, Kenya,
breaker, a light bulb, and a provides free nighttime lighting to landowners in Ololailumtia.
find ways to stimulate
standard wall socket. It was (Source: PowerGen.)
demand to sell more of the
IEEE Electrific ation Magazine / march 2 0 1 5

11



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

IEEE Electrification Magazine - March 2015 - Cover1
IEEE Electrification Magazine - March 2015 - Cover2
IEEE Electrification Magazine - March 2015 - 1
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IEEE Electrification Magazine - March 2015 - Cover3
IEEE Electrification Magazine - March 2015 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_december2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_september2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_june2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_march2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_december2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_september2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_june2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_march2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_december2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_september2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_june2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_december2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_september2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_march2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_june2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_march2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_june2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_december2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_september2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_december2015
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_march2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_march2015
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_june2015
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_september2015
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_march2014
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_june2014
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_september2014
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_december2014
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pes/electrification_december2013
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