Okra Modular Microgrid Baseline Pilot
Is there a need for small scale microgrids in rural off-grid communities? What’s the potential efficiency gains over standalone solar home systems?
We decided to back up our calculations with some empirical evidence so we went to Prey Pdao in Takeo Province, Cambodia and installed 5 solar home systems for the community. The Levelised Cost of Electricity in Cambodia from charging batteries with diesel is approximately $4.5/KWh, so we decided to charge households $1/kWh of electricity consumed, very steep compared to what we’re used to in urban areas, but still a fraction of the cost these households were paying. With the help of our implementation partners NRG Solutions and Camsolar, we installed 150Wp solar home systems with a 100Ah battery in each of the 5 households – which turns out was self-extended by the community to serve 7 households (will get to that later).
Our objectives were to let these households connect their old or new DC appliances to these systems, and observe the energy consumption behaviour, and importantly find out if there was any excess generation that could potentially be utilised in a smart connected microgrid network.
The pre-pilot was running since the start of August and the results are really encouraging (at least in terms of opportunities to improve!)
Total kWh Consumed
Total no. Houses Currently Powered
Estimated Cost of Consumption w/ Diesel
Total kWh Generated
Potential no. Houses Powered w/ Okra
Cost of Consumption w/ Okra
This is the village chief’s house. There’s 6 people who live at this house, they’re rice farmers who also run the equivalent to the village convenience store when there’s nothing to harvest. They also make fishing nets while unoccupied because as you can imagine there’s not too much traffic through their store. They run a couple of lights, a fan, and a small T.V using most of their electricity at night time.
This is really encouraging data for us because with our smart, connected microgrid technology, Okra will be able to distribute the aggregate amount of power between the households more efficiently – this means a reduced cost of power, more reliable power and importantly more households electrified from the same amount of generation and storage assets.