The overall aim is to implement viable, sustainable operational services for the benefit of society. In the context of microgrids, the aim is to achieve “access to energy for all”. Currently an estimated 300 million people in India are lacking the access to electricity. Globally this number is a staggering 1.2 billion. The specific aims of the Space4Microgrid – India project are to :
- To assess the technical feasibility and commercial viability of satellite based services to support microgrids;
- To support the phases of strategic planning, operation and maintenance of microgrids;
- To engage and secure the buy-in and involvement of important paying customers and other relevant stakeholders of such services;
- To establish the roadmap for service implementation through a potential follow-up demonstration project, with the goal of having a pre-operational demonstration project
Users and their needs
User requirements are collected at this stage.
Service/ system concept
The system consists of a mapping and monitoring service:
The mapping service aims to aid decision makers and planners in the ‘strategic planning and design’ phase of microgrid development. This service is further divided into two components:
Suitability assessment aids in determination of geographic scope of microgrid development. Weights are assigned to criteria that are important in determining suitability of communities for microgrid development.
Detailed site assessment provides more detailed, on-demand information (in the form of maps), required to make an even more informed choice on the feasibility of a microgrid project and to aid in design and construction.
The monitoring service concentrates on the ‘operation and maintenance’ of a microgrid development. This service is further divided into two components:
Monitoring dashboard is updated daily, providing data on the modeled potential energy generation and metrics from the microgrid itself (sent through SATCOM using a BGAN terminal). These metrics give information on the current functioning of the microgrid. Further, the installed BGAN terminal can also be used to connect communities with tele-education and tele-health.
Change signaling is an on demand service that can potentially be triggered by: alarming figures from the dashboard or disaster event driven need for information on damages, etc. from e.g. storms/disasters like flooding, landslides, avalanches.
Space Added Value
The proposed service makes use of space assets in the form of satellite communication and earth observation.
The effective use of earth observation is able to greatly reduce costs in the different stages of a microgrid life-cycle mainly due to reducing the number of visits required to (proposed) microgrid sites and reducing the costs of these visits.
The effective use of satellite communications is expected to improve microgrid performance and increase microgrid lifetime. This is achieved by the fact that health indicators of the microgrid can be monitored and preventive action can be taken when signs are critical. Furthermore long-term micgrogrid metrics can be downloaded and analysed in order to improve its performance. In locations where no other source of internet is available, satellite communication is the only channel that can be used. Alternatives like regular field visits in order to monitor/collect microgrid information are extremely costly.
During the first phase of the project, a technical and economic feasibility study has been carried out. From this, it was concluded that the described services are feasible, both from the technical and economical point of view.
During the second phase of the project an outline proposal has been prepared for a demonstration project in which the services can be demonstrated. This document provides a rough scope of the demonstration including timeline, activities and budget. Furthermore a roadmap has been outlined showing the path towards operational and sustainable services including a planning, the proposed partners and partnership model, funding options/ needs and the critical success factors.
A number of customers based in India and involved in the development and operations of rural microgrids already expressed their intent in piloting the services and to partner with during the pilots.
The next step in developing the services of Space4Microgrids is a demonstration project. Preparations for this demonstration project (proposal) are ongoing and are anticipated to result in a IAP proposal for ESA in 2019, resulting in a demonstration project in 2020-2021.