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GSR 2015

107 05 RENEWABLES 2015 GLOBAL STATUS REPORT SIDEBAR 8. EMERGING INNOVATIVE DISTRIBUTED RENEWABLE ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES A number of recent innovations offer the potential to radically improve the future DRE landscape. For example: Thermoelectric generator (TEG) stoves utilise their own heat to produce power that operates a blower or fan, eliminating the need for an external source of electricity and increasing the efficiency of combustion. Alternatively, the electricity that they generate can be used to charge small devices such as mobile phones. TEG stoves are becoming cost-competitive. They have been shown to reduce harmful pollutants significantly compared to traditional stoves. In 2014, multiple models backed by dozens of companies were field-tested and piloted in Haiti, India, Malawi, Nepal, and Nicaragua. Flexi-biogas systems use balloon (or tube) digesters made from a polyethylene or plastic bag, making them mobile and extremely lightweight. They have several advantages over traditional units: they typically can be constructed in one day; they can be carried by bicycle or motorcycle; they cost less and use fewer materials; they require less manure for start-up; and they take less time to convert waste into energy. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Biogas International distributed 500 systems in Kenya during 2011–14. Flexi-biogas systems also are being piloted by IFAD in India, Rwanda, and São Tomé and Príncipe, and by the Multilateral Investment Fund in Mexico. Pico-wind turbines offer a very low-cost technology for powering remote telecommunications. Founded only a few years ago, the company Fairwind has designed small wind machines made from plastic bottles that can be constructed in a matter of minutes with a simple knife and scissors. The units require only a “gentle breeze” to charge a mobile phone and can complete the charge in about three to four hours. Fairwind is piloting its systems in South Africa and is targeting more of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia (India and Nepal) for expansion in 2015. Solar-powered irrigation kits enable farmers to grow high-value fruits and vegetables. One irrigation kit made by SunCulture combines cost-effective solar pumping technology with a high- efficiency drip irrigation system. The systems help farmers in Africa realise yield gains of up to 300% and water savings of up to 80%. In Benin, the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) has promoted “solar market gardens.” The SELF project couples solar PV units (1.5–3 kW) with drip irrigation systems. The drip irrigation systems are drilled into boreholes and are able to water half-hectare farming plots. In Bangladesh, Infrastructure Development Company Limited distributed 160 MW of off-grid solar irrigation pumps in 2014 to replace 18,700 diesel-based irrigation pumps. The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership(REEEP)alsohasinvestedinsolar-poweredirrigation in Ethiopia and Kenya. Ancillary services and monitoring are making use of digitisation, and the “internet of things” is making its way into the DRE sector with remote monitoring systems that enable collection of data on system use and status, allowing for improved after-sales service, better customer service, and lower costs that enable companies to reach more people. As a service to DRE companies, Product Health collects and analyses data on the battery status and use patterns of remote solar units. The SparkMeter micro-grid metering system enables micro-grid operators to implement pre-payment for electricity and to achieve real-time monitoring and control. The low-cost system consists of four hardware components, a cloud-based operator interface, and a mobile money (or cash-based) pre-payment system. Also in 2014, the Multilateral Investment Fund started developing a solar charge controller for Latin America and the Caribbean that combines remote system monitoring via cellular signal, compatibility with mobile payment services, and an extra input for the integration of additional sources of energy, such as a connection to a mini-grid or a national grid. In the realm of cooking, Project Surya has developed a “Cookstove Temperature Monitoring System” that utilises a wireless sensor to enable remote verification of the number of times a stove is used for cooking and the duration of each use. Solar direct current (DC) micro-grids offer superior compa- tibility with certain electric appliances (such as LED lamps, battery-operated phones and computers, televisions, etc.) and can obviate the need for an inverter. Schneider Electric has been developing DC micro-grid systems that integrate solar PV units with low-voltage radial distribution lines. A Bangladeshi company developed a charge controller with an embedded DC converter to distribute electricity at higher DC voltages with reduced line losses. Bundling of products and services together into hybridised or integrated packaged systems—especially bundles that promote electricity and appliance usage, telecommunications, and/or cooking—could be another high-impact innovation. Super-efficient DC appliances that can be connected directly to a solar home system are emerging, a trend that started recently with LEDs and that is expanding to other appliances, such as televisions that run on 12 V systems, as well as radios, shavers, and fans. In India, TERI has designed a new “Integrated Domestic Energy System” that provides access to basic solar energy systems for lighting, charging mobile phones, and operating a fan in a forced-draft cookstove. As of March 2015, TERI had distributed 7,793 units in India. Source: See Endnote 48 for this section.

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