PV BASED RURAL ELECTRIFICATION IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA COUNTRIES

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PV BASED RURAL ELECTRIFICATION IN REMA VILLAGE

Solar PV based rural electrification is becoming a common phenomenon in Ethiopia, where people are settled in a scattered pattern which created problems for grid electrification. Both government and non-governmental organization are involved in the process. Solar Energy Foundation (Stiftung Solarenergie), a charitable nongovernmental organization established in 2006 by Dr. Harald Schützichel, with main aims of poverty alleviation in developing countries by promoting the use of renewable energy, especially solar energy. This organization is working in rural electrification mainly in Ethiopia by using model projects, where Rema village is one of the model project [Breyer et al 2009; Tsegaye, 2010]. Stiftung Solarenergie is now working in the four regions of Ethiopia: Amhara, Tigray, Southern nations and nationalities and Oromia region. It has built more than 3580 PV home systems in different parts of Ethiopia. Apart from Rema village there are seven solar villages built by this organization. These are: Humera, Yirgalem, Wulkite, Wolliso , Hawasa and Bedelle. A solar center which handles all maintenance and other connected services is found in Rema village. In the other villages there are ongoing installations, and centers will be built after the installation [Tsegaye, 2010].
Rema is a remote rural village found in the north of Addis Ababa. In this remote rural village the solar energy foundation has installed over 2000 small solar home systems with 10Wp PV module, gel lead acid battery, charge controller and four LED lights [Breyer et al 2009]. It provides lighting and power small entertainment devices such as radio for not more than two hours. The foundation also installed a solar powered water pump to provide fresh drinking water that will save from walking two hours to fetch water [Breyer et al 2009].
Figure 8: Location of Rema Village. The left map shows REMA village as a red circle with the Red sea and the Gulf of Aden to the right. [Google map]
The Solar Energy Foundation also set up an international solar school to train people in the community which is the first professional solar institution in Ethiopia [Breyer et al 2009]. The school is found in the Solar Energy Foundation center in Rema. The training lasts for six months and it has three parts: solar technology, management of a small scale business and practical applications. The students are qualified as “Rural Solar Energy Manager”. At the end of the training, the students will have the knowledge of installation and maintenance of PV systems. They can also manage their own solar business and know how to choose and combine the different components of the system [Breyer et al 2009].
Before the solar foundation begun to install the solar PV the villagers were using diesel generator but turned to solar PV due to the increasing cost of diesel. When seeing the first cost diesel generator is an interesting option for the buyer. The major costs become after it starts operating. It is also difficult to maintain a diesel generator due to lack of spare parts. [Breyer et al 2009]
In Rema village, the initial PV system is fully funded by Solar Energy Foundation. After installation the customers pay for the battery replacement and maintenance costs in each month. If a system fails it will be maintained and replaced by technicians in solar center. The due will be paid from the collected money. Customers pay the monthly fee at 12 stations and a person is employed to take control of the payments.
For other villages now the foundation stated a loan finance system. The system cost is paid by the organization in the form of loan and the user pay it back from 3 to 5 years. The customers will chose according to their demand and ability to pay cost which ranges from 380 to 9100 Ethiopian birr (ETB). According to the foundation, out of 700 hundred PV home systems installed by loan, only 3 people are left for paying back the loan. The main problem that faced during the installation is that customers did not trust the system whether it works or not without failure for the intended life time. Though some systems failed soon after their installation, the organization succeeded in creating trust on the technology. The solar home systems installed in the village can give a four hour light. About 1% of the customers in other villages complain the system is not properly working [Tsegaye, 2010]. Mostly the failure is due to that customers do not have enough information about how to regulate and use the system.

Villagers attitude towards PV based electrification

Villagers were interviewed about their attitude towards the technology. Most of the villagers were happy with the technology. Many of them were surprised when electricity is coming from solar energy. They feel modernity and solved the main problems caused by traditional lighting using kerosene. They responded that unlike kerosene lamp, it gives high quality light and has no smoke that can cause health problems. The electricity that comes from the solar PV is also advantageous in terms of safety. Fire hazards are a common phenomena using kerosene lamp based lighting systems. When performing interviews it was clear that there has been people that lost their lives and properties due to such accidents.
During the survey interviews, people have been asked about their capacities towards to have the PV solar home system either in direct payment or through loan. The responses have been found different based on the level and type of household income, location and level of literacy. Some households didn’t respond for either of them due to the low income level. People who have small business firms showed high interest because of the desperate requirement of electricity to grow their business. On the other hand, equipment guarantee has been found a problem for those using the solar equipments. Concerning the issue one customer has, quoted “When I heard that there is a mobile charger I become happy and buy, but it fails within 8 days. I returned it to the solar center but it passed four months and still now it is not maintained. There must be a guarantee when somebody buys any solar system”.
Some villagers, who came for maintenance, were interviewed at the solar center about their view. According to their response, maintenance is taking longer time than it is supposed to be. A maintenance which can be fixed in few days is taking even more than 2 months to get the system maintained due to lack of spare and small number of technicians. There is also a problem for the distant areas as the technicians did not visit them continuously.
In Rema village there are persons whose income is based on small scale business, agriculture only (both farming and herding animals) and mixed type of income (agriculture and some small scale business activity). The small scale activity in mixed type of income is mostly making local drinks known as “Arekae” and “Tela”. Preparation of these drinks is energy intensive and fire wood is used as energy source. Interviews were done for each income type and the following chart is developed based on the responses about solar PV. All numbers are in percentage where 100% is for total number of villagers interviewed in each income level.
Small scale business showed high interest towards the technology. 70% of the interviewed showed an interest for direct buy option. This is due that they want to grow their business and the understood electricity is crucial for expansion. Villagers of mixed income households showed an interest for loan based payment. This can be due to the lower income compared to villagers who have small scale business. It can also be that electric lighting has lower impact on their income level compared to small scale business owners. Households whose incomes depend on 100% agriculture showed less interest for the technology compared to others. This can be due to the low level of income and their agricultural activities mostly do not depend on the electricity.

The impact of using PV and its prospective in socio economic development of the village

The villagers of Rema were using Kerosene lamps, “fanos” (the fuel used is kerosene but it is covered with glass), and fire wood for lighting. The use of solar PV light increases the activity of the villagers. People who have children at education, perform activities like string a tile, making cultural household dressings and do different business activities want to have additional time of lighting. On the other hand, people whose activity is mainly agriculture requires minimum lighting time unless they have children who attend education (as the students want the light for performing homework and studying).
Currently, PV system is mostly used for lighting and sometimes for radio and tape due to its power limitation. Villagers with small scale business were interviewed about their demand for extra PV modules for their business activity and 35.71% said the existing lighting is enough and 64.29% needs an additional lighting time and for other services. They were also interviewed about how the system changed their life style and economic activity, where 71.42% of them are happy and got a change in the level of their economic activity.
Households with mixed income were also interviewed about the impact of PV in their life style and economic activity. 42.86% of the interviewed said the current lighting level is enough, 57.14% of them want to have additional lighting time and other services. 85.71% of the interviewed are happy and got change in their level of activities. 66.67% interviewed villagers whose income is agriculture only said the lighting time is enough, 33.33% of them want to have an additional lighting time and 25% of them got the change in their level of activities.
It was also tried to include the awareness of household energy system during field survey. From the survey results, the men hardly know the amount of energy consumed in the house. This information is best known by women as they usually are responsible for cooking. Due to this reason, the advantage of the PV based electrification is best applauded by women than men in the house. Women are demanding more electricity to have refrigerator, TV and tape. On the other side men want to have electricity to perform different commercial activities like welding, bakery, barber shop and beauty shop.
From the interviews data analysis of the three cases, villagers who have small scale business for their income showed high interest for extra PV modules for longer lighting time and other services such as refrigerators, where as lower positive response in households having income from agriculture only. From the interviews, it can be concluded that although the PV based electrification has brought positive impacts on the villagers, the demand of most villagers is hardly met. For example, if customers want to have 0.50 ETB (50 cents) photocopy, they have to travel a long distance which can cost up to 50 ETB. Villagers want to have more modules either by direct or loan payment system. However, the size of the PV module need to be optimized based on their demand.

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The present status of solar PV from the customers and technicians

It has been four years since the Rema PV solar home systems have been installed and many of the customers are reporting frequent maintenance and replacement requests. Many parts are becoming old and the battery life is around four year. The other problem is all the required spares and materials couldn’t reach on time especially battery and lamps. To replace the lamps the customers forced to wait some time without light and the same is true for the battery replacement. The CFL lamp also need frequent change unlike that of LED lights. Other studies also show that the CFL lights do not live up to manufacturer’s claim. Its lifetime is a common compliant among users. The life spans of CFL also depend on how it is used. If it is turned on for only a short period of time it has been measured that its life span lowers significantly [Humpreys, 2008]. There are also complaints about the number of technicians and capacity to maintain it properly. On the other hand due to recent advancements in optic and improvements in managing the LED chip’s temperature contributed to its longer life span [Angelle, 2010; Humpreys, 2008].
Two of the technicians use tape for less than two hours and one of them uses radio for the same length of time without failure of the systems. According to the technicians it can serve good if it is used properly but many villagers complain that it is not possible to use tape or radio because the system fails as tape/ radio is plug in. According to the village survey the people who has a small scale business activity, 37.5% of the customer said that it is possible to use tape or radio not more than an hour and the rest 62.5% said it is not possible to use the system for the radio or tape. Using tape or radio makes the light weak. The people whose activity is agriculture, 12.5% said it is possible to use tape or radio for some times; 87.5% of them said it is not possible to use tape or radio as the system fails when they try to use tape or radio; 50% of them claim that their system is disabled by the solar center in order to avoid system failure. Discharging the battery for longer time than recommended was found the main issue which shortens the life of the battery. It can also damage the battery cells totally. In order to avoid this problem the foundation forced to disable the system that used to plug in tape/radio in some villagers.
During the survey it became clear that the customers have no idea about the systems except to turn on and off the light and plug in the radio/tape. This misunderstanding of the systems shortens the life time and a continuous training is required for the customers. When asked how it fails the answer of the customers was “we do not know how but it shows red light and we ask the solar technician to correct it”.

Solar PV for Schools

Many of the rural schools in Ethiopia have no access to electricity and an off grid PV system can play a good role in changing of these areas as we can see in the Rema village. Poor rural people know that education offers an escape from poverty and they are eager to work for promotion of it. The solar PV electricity in remote rural schools allows children to extend their studies in evening. In Rema village there are two schools: Ediget Behibret Secondary school (grade 9 and 10) and Rema higher primary school starting from grade 1 up to 8. Rema Higher primary school is built by Menschen für Menschen foundation. The students in this school know about solar energy and how it is useful for their community. When entering to the compound of the schools there are billboards that explain about solar PV both in English and Amharic languages as shown in figure 12 and 13 and are used for teaching students about advantages, system components and operation principles.

Table of contents :

1. INTRODUCTION
2. OBJECTIVES AND GOALS
3. METHOD OF ATTACK
4. ENERGY USE IN ETHIOPIA
4.1. SOLAR ENERGY RESOURCE
4.1.1. Solar energy resource for the study area
4.2. RURAL ELECTRIFICATION IN ETHIOPIA
4.2.1. Rural Electrification in Ethiopia using Solar PV as an Energy Sources
5. PV BASED RURAL ELECTRIFICATION
5.1. THE GROWTH OF PV TECHNOLOGY
5.2. PV BASED RURAL ELECTRIFICATION IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA COUNTRIES
5.3. BENEFITS OF SOLAR PV BASED RURAL ELECTRIFICATION
5.4. SOLAR HOME SYSTEMS (OFF GRID PV) FOR RURAL ELECTRIFICATION
5.4.1. Solar PV Module
5.4.2. Batteries
5.4.3. Charge controller
5.4.4. Inverters (converters)
6. PV BASED RURAL ELECTRIFICATION IN REMA VILLAGE
6.1. VILLAGERS ATTITUDE TOWARDS PV BASED ELECTRIFICATION
6.2. THE IMPACT OF USING PV AND ITS PROSPECTIVE IN SOCIO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF THE VILLAGE
6.3. THE PRESENT STATUS OF SOLAR PV FROM THE CUSTOMERS AND TECHNICIANS
6.4. SOLAR PV FOR SCHOOLS
6.5. SOLAR PV FOR HEALTH CLINICS
6.6. SOLAR PV FOR DRINKING WATER
6.7. SOLAR PV FOR TELECOMMUNICATION
7. ENERGY SYSTEMS IN REMA VILLAGE
7.1. ENERGY SYSTEMS IN MIXED AND AGRICULTURE ONLY HOUSEHOLDS
7.1.1. Existing Energy system in Mixed and Agriculture only Households
7.1.2. Energy demand in Mixed and Agriculture Only Income Households
7.2. ENERGY SYSTEMS IN SMALL SCALE BUSINESS CENTERS
7.2.1. Existing Energy Systems in Small Scale Business Centers
7.2.2. Energy Demand in Small Scale Business Centers
7.3. ENERGY SYSTEMS FOR PUBLIC SERVICES
7.3.1. Energy Demand for Rema Higher Primary School
7.3.2. Energy Demand for Rema health clinic
8. HOMER OPTIMIZATION OF ENERGY DEMAND
8.1. HOMER OPTIMIZATION RESULTS
8.1.1. Existing Household energy system before PV system
8.1.2. Existing Household Energy system after PV installation
8.1.3. HOMER Optimization Results for the village energy demand
9. DISCUSSION
9.1. THE IMPACT OF PV BASED ELECTRIFICATION FOR SOCIOECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
IN REMA VILLAGE
9.2. SOLAR PV FOR CLIMATE MITIGATION AND ADAPTATION IN REMA VILLAGE
9.3. SUSTAINABILITY OF PV BASED RURAL ELECTRIFICATION IN REMA VILLAGE
10. CONCLUSION
11. RECOMMENDATION AND FUTURE WORKS
12. REFERENCES
13. APPENDICES
13.1. QUESTIONNAIRES
13.2. ENERGY SUPPLY, CONSUMPTION AND INDIGENOUS ENERGY RESOURCES IN ETHIOPIA
13.3. DAILY SOLAR RADIATION FOR ALEM KETEMA
13.4. HOMER MODELING S
13.5. SPECIFICATION OF LAPTOPS FOR THE SCHOOL
13.6. SPECIFICATION FOR SOLAR PV MODULES
13.7. SPECIFICATION FOR BATTERIES
13.8. SPECIFICATION FOR INVERTERS

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