IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014 - 49

Case Study 3: Identifying Renewable Hot Spots

different partners. rli itself is cofunded by the reiner
lemoine-Stiftung.

The Company

founded in 2010, the reiner lemoine institut gmbh (rli)
is a german nonprofit research institution that carries out
research on renewable energy, integration of different energy
technologies, grid management, energy storage, hybrid power
plants, and off-grid electrification.
The Challenge

rural or remote areas are either not electrified at all or the
electricity production is based on diesel-fired gensets (see
figure 9). apart from the detrimental ecological impact, this
practice of electricity generation experiences high economic
pressure due to increasing world market prices for diesel fuel.
a hybridization of gensets with renewable energies such as
solar PV or wind power with or without battery storage, a
practice called diesel subsetting, is therefore increasingly economically viable. the market is very scattered, however, and a
profound locally resolved evaluation of the economic potential
in a given environment is hard to acquire. it depends strongly
on local renewable resource abundance, the prevailing diesel
price, and the project's distance from the central grid.
Opportunities for Renewables

Diesel subsetting helps alleviate both the economic pressure
and the ecological jeopardy of a purely diesel-fired electricity
production scheme. furthermore, in many remote areas PV
represents the most cost-effective way to provide electricity.
A Renewable Solution

the methodology developed at the institute combines geographic information system (giS)-based data analysis with
a simulation model of hybrid systems to quantify the economic potential and localize the most attractive areas for
diesel and rural electrification. the output includes highresolution resource data such as solar irradiation and wind
speed, population data, existing electricity infrastructure,
night lights, and local accessibility. by combining the data
sets, the potential for off-grid electricity generation can be
identified and the local economic attractiveness of a renewable hybrid system can be evaluated. it is therefore useful to
obtain an overview of the inhomogeneous market of off-grid
diesel offsetting. (offsetting means to hybridize or substitute diesel power generation by alternative energy sources
such as renewables to reduce the diesel fuel consumption.)
complementing the giS analysis, a simulation model predicts the cost-optimized configuration of a hybrid system,
thus quantifying the potential renewable installation capacities depending on local parameters.
Project Financing and Costs

the methodology for such an approach was developed
at rli and, throughout the past year, was refined in the
course of many projects conducted in cooperation with
july/august 2014

Project Outcome

industrial partners were provided with profound data helping them to identify the most attractive market regions for
their specific technologies. this includes the localization of
nonelectrified people and off-grid diesel-based power generation along with evaluation of the local economic viability of
renewable energy technologies. the data constitute valuable
support for their respective business development processes
and gives them a head start when entering new markets.

Conclusions
While universal access to clean energy has become a part of
many major political initiatives, it will be important to further
intensify efforts to translate this positive development into effective regional and national activities. the provision of affordable,
reliable, and sustainable access to energy in its various forms
remains one of the key challenges of economic and social development, including employment, in developing, emerging, and
advanced regions alike. as there is a high correlation between
clean energy access and responsible growth, however, developments that help these markets to mature are positive.
experience shows that implementing sustainable hybrid
minigrid solutions involves solving complex technical, financial, and organizational problems using methods that address
the end users and their needs, capacity building and training,
tariff and subsidy setting, and institutional strength. if the private sector is to mainstream the unelectrified population, market-driven strategy and innovation constitute the way forward.
there is not a one-size-fits-all energy solution. nonetheless, if private companies are willing to take a chance and
invest in the extraordinary potential of these countries, there
is no telling how large such markets may become. few realize that business innovation and appropriate modeling are
key. only with these tools can renewables in these countries
become a major part of the long-term energy future. in the
next few years, renewable energy could become both a major
boost to economic development and the answer to the problem
of energy access worldwide.

For Further Reading
"hybrid mini-grids for rural electrification: lessons learned,"
uSaiD and alliance for rural electrification, 2011.
"reducing the cost of grid extension for rural electrification," eSMaP, 2000.
Se4all. [online]. available: www.se4all.org
"World energy outlook," international energy agency, 2012.

Biographies
Marcus Wiemann is with the alliance for rural electrification, brussels, belgium.
Ling Ng is with the alliance for rural electrification,
p&e
brussels, belgium.
ieee power & energy magazine

49


http://www.se4all.org

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