Solar Home System or mini-grid
Depending on the situation and energy demands in rural areas we work with two types of solar energy systems: Solar Home Systems (SHS) or mini-grids.
What’s a Solar Home System?
To supply electricity in areas where customers live far apart from each other, FRES companies work with Solar Home Systems. A standard SHS consists of a battery, a controller and a solar panel. These systems provide enough energy – from 80 up to 320Wp – to power a few light bulbs and power points for a radio, a fan, a mobile phone charger or a television for a few hours a day.
- access to energy in areas where there’s no electricity network
- quick installation and removal if necessary
- little maintenance
- cheaper per kWh than candles, batteries and/or paraffin
- no emission of harmful substances
Restrictions of an SHS:
- only small electrical appliances such as a small fan, radio or battery charger can be connected. Cooking, heating and cooling is not possible
- the technology comes with high initial investments
If customers have higher energy requirements, a mini-grid is a better solution.
What’s a solar mini-grid?
A mini-grid is a small scale electricity network fed by solar energy. The generated electricity is supplied – directly or indirectly via batteries – to clients who are connected to this mini-grid electricity network. A group of people who live close to each other, in for instance a village, can be easily connected to the grid.
We use the mini-grid technology when we wish to expand an existing FRES company in order to provide more facilities to our customers. If customers have higher energy requirements, a solar mini-grid is the right solution.
The advantage of a solar mini-grid is that it can meet higher energy demands by for instance local businesses. A solar mini-grid boosts business activities in rural areas, but can only be realised economically if the distance between clients is relatively small.
How does a mini-grid work?
Solar panels capture sunlight, which is converted to electricity. The electricity then goes to an inverter that converts direct current into alternating current, which is then fed directly or indirectly (via the batteries) into the electricity network. The electricity reaches all customers connected to the network.
A diesel generator is used as a back up for the solar power plant. The generator will feed the network or batteries at times when the solar energy production is insufficient. To allow the batteries of the electricity network to be recharged, customers will not have access to the network for a period of time.
Advantages of a mini-grid:
- provides a higher power level
- little maintenance
- no emission of pollutants
- no dependence on the import of diesel and fluctuating energy prices