In view of its immense potential to power rural areas by harnessing local renewable energy resources and decentralise power supply, the National Institute of Engineering (NIE) is set to establish a renewable energy-based microgrid.
Described as the future of power supply, microgrids harnessing renewable energy resources available locally can also be programmed to manage the load. Hence the Centre for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technologies (CREST) at the NIE has sought to collaborate with the University of Wisconsin, U.S., to establish a microgrid on the institute campus to start with.
The NIE has a solar plant that generates about 40 kV power ... the proposed microgrid will be compatible with all power sources to provide for reliable and decentralised electricity supply, said S. Shamsundar, Director of the CREST.
He told The Hindu that the long-term objective was to power villages in the vicinity through such a technology as most villages had both solar and biogas as sources of energy but the power generated cannot be plugged into a common grid under the conventional technology and hence the production was not efficiently utilised. This was where the microgrid comes in and energy generated from different sources could be fed into it so as to make it a common source for local distribution. Plans were on to establish a few such microgrids in the villages, said Prof. Shamsundar.
Giri Venkataramana of the University of Wisconsin, who has specialised in the field, said microgrid was a proven technology for its reliability and there were case studies to prove that in times of total blackouts caused by a grid collapse, microgrids ensured power supply. The proposed microgrid at the NIE could be used as a test-bed for the local areas. Besides reliability, the transmission and distribution losses would also be minimal as both the source and the customer would be locally situated, he added.
Prof. Shamsundar said most villages had power supply only on paper and were linked to the main grid of Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Ltd. (KPTCL) but the actual duration of supply was only a few hours. But we can device microgrids which can receive power from multiplicity of sources, including solar, wind, biogas, biodiesel, etc., and decouple the villages from the main KPTCL grid, said Prof. Shamsundar.
Source: The Hindu
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