Innovation Lab
25.11.2020
News Clip
25.11.2020
News Clip

Smart inverters and mini-grids: has the grid of the future arrived in Africa?

Smart inverters and mini-grids: has the grid of the future arrived in Africa?

In a small village in rural Tanzania, the final building block of the grid of the future may have arrived – the smart inverter. Just as smart phones transformed the way we generate, consume, and share data, smart inverters are transforming the way we generate, consume, and share energy. While countries like the USA retrofit their current electricity grid with decentralized energy storage and generation, Africa is on the brink of moving straight to the grid of the future: an interwoven mesh of generation and distribution providing smart, flexible, and reliable power.

In a farming village of nearly 2000 people in central Tanzania, two sets of solar panel arrays and battery banks are doing something remarkable. Despite being almost 500 meters apart, and without any human oversight or communication system, the two smart inverters are coordinating their behavior on a single mini-grid to supply reliable, 24/7 power to the village’s households and businesses.

The two smart inverters work together by monitoring and adjusting the mini-grid’s ‘heartbeat’ – the frequency of the grid. When the heartbeat – or frequency – of the mini-grid system is faster than its own, an inverter knows that the system has excess energy, and it can draw on the central system to charge its battery banks. If more customers start consuming energy and the frequency of the mini-grid system slows, each inverter knows it needs to share any excess energy with the system. https://www.renewableenergyworld.com/solar/microgrids-solar/smart-inverters-and-mini-grids-has-the-grid-of-the-future-arrived-in-africa/