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GSR 2015 - Distributed Renewable Energy Technologies

105 05 RENEWABLES 2015 GLOBAL STATUS REPORT 06 n DISTRIBUTED RENEWABLE ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES People in rural and remote regions generally acquire improved access to energy in three ways: 1) through use of isolated devices and systems for power generation at the household level, and for heating and cooking; 2) through community-level mini- grid systems; and 3) through grid-based electrification, where the grid is extended beyond urban and peri-urban areas. This section focuses on the first two (distributed) means of improving energy access. (p See Sidebar 9, GSR 2014.) Reliable quantitative data regarding DRE markets and installed capacity are relatively limited. However, at the household and non-residential levels, DRE technologies—including small-scale solar PV and stand-alone lighting systems, wind, biodiesel, and micro- and pico-hydro stations for electricity, heating and cooling units, and cooking devices—appear to have a significant and growing market presence. (R See Reference Table R22.) The dramatic price reductions of solar PV cells, combined with the availability of affordable and efficient appliances such as LED lights and new lithium-based batteries, have rendered solar PV systems more affordable, even for very small-scale applications (although prices vary across markets). The popularity of solar lanterns, solar-pico PV systems (1–10 W capacity), and slightly larger solar home systems (SHS) (10–200 W) continued to rise in 2014. One of the most successful SHS programmes has been carried out in Bangladesh, where more than 3 million systems were operational at the end of May 2014 (with 65,000 units being sold every month), serving 13 million beneficiaries, or 9% of the total population.25 Stand-alone lighting systems—including solar lanterns, flash- lights, and battery-powered LED devices—have begun to proliferate, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.26 In addition, during 2014, small-scale wind turbines were being used predominantly for battery charging, telecommunications, irrigation, and water pumping.27 Micro- and pico-hydro stations as small as 1 kW continue to be adopted in many countries, providing local communities with affordable electricity. Typically, such hydro systems operate reliably for at least 20 years and require minimal maintenance (other than keeping the intake screen free of debris). Nepal had more than 2,600 micro- and pico-hydro systems installed by the end of 2013, with a total capacity of more than 45 MW.28 Increasingly, biomass and biogas systems are being used to supply electricity. To fuel engine-powered generators, people in a rising number of countries are using vegetable oils from palm, coconut, jatropha, and other sources to displace diesel. In Thailand, biodiesel for electricity generation is being produced on a small scale from used cooking oil.29 In Cambodia, India, Vietnam, and elsewhere, biogas produced from dry wood, weeds, and rice husks is used increasingly to fuel engines, driving generator sets to supply electricity to mini-grids.30 The rural cooking and heating sector has progressed due to advances in technology and increased awareness of problems associated with deforestation. The rising popularity of educational programmes also has played a role by raising awareness among rural populations about the benefits of using modern biomass and solar thermal systems for clean cooking and for water and space heating.31 Programmes to promote modern biomass stoves have reached a significant number of households, due largely to historic government efforts in China and to international efforts of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.32 Other fuels used for household cooking purposes, although at far smaller volumes, include ethanol, biogas, wood pellets, and solar energy, as well as non-renewable fuels such as coal, kerosene, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Ethiopia is home to a cookstove programme that relies on liquid biofuel rather than biomass.33 In Nigeria, SMEFunds has distributed roughly 200,000 cleaner-burning stoves that use ethanol gel as a fuel.34 Simple anaerobic digester technology can produce clean biogas fuel for cooking from animal manure, crop residues, and other organic waste feedstocks.35 Biogas is best suited for the estimated 155 million households and commercial farms where sufficient animal manure (and human waste) can be collected on a daily basis.36 Nepal has one of the most successful biogas programmes in the world, with more than 330,000 plants installed under the Biogas Support Program.37 Other applications relying on DRE, such as street lighting and energy for productive uses, continued to emerge in 2014. For instance, solar-powered public lighting has proliferated in several countries, and it is becoming a first step in rural electrification programmes. In Haiti, the government supported the installation of as many as 14,000 solar-powered streetlights in 2014, and countless others were erected by private actors.38 Abuja, Nigeria, also has more than 100 streets with solar- powered lighting.39 In addition, numerous DRE systems can provide a variety of other energy services connected to productive energy or mechanical energy.40 (p See Table 4.) DRE is playing a large and growing role in energising schools, health clinics, and some urban residences in developing countries, largely because it is cheaper and more convenient than diesel generators.41 Other DRE applications in- clude powering remote telecommunications towers and sending excess energy back into community micro-grids.42 Another distinct type of configuration of DRE systems relates to micro- and mini-grids. When configured properly, they can operate more cost effectively than centralised power grids.43 SunEdison signed an agreement with India-based Omni-grid Micropower Company to set up solar powered micro-grids in 5,000 Indian villages (cumulative capacity of 250 MW).44 A company in Gabon (Meagle Sun) has developed and installed 100 community SHS units with batteries (called “solar cupboards”), configured as a single micro-grid.45 The Indian government launched a very ambitious target in 2014 to install a cumulative 40 GW of rooftop solar PV power plants, which will be set up over the next five years in community micro-grids ranging from 1 kW to 500 kW in capacity.46 Other micro-grids are deployed in urban areas. Gham Power in Nepal, for example, developed a business model for urban diesel-solar micro-grids as an answer to unreliable electricity supplies from the public grid. It is building about 4 MW of hybrid solar PV-diesel generators to serve about 30 organisations, including hospitals, banks, hotels, and factories.47 In addition to existing, well-established technologies, 2014 witnessed the evolution of new types of DRE equipment, configurations, and applications.48 (p See Sidebar 8.)

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