One of the most interesting topics I have come across during this Fellowship is the promise of Solar Microgrids in the electrification of rural areas. Unlike the standard solar pv rooftops, solar microgrids give the added advantage of being able to island from the grid. The microgrid’s software senses the next disruption in supply from the grid, and responds by cutting itself off from the grid. Therefore, it offers people the option of receiving clean electricity without the added inconvenience of installing a PV panel on their roof.
Such “community” solar microgrids for a city are typically designed around hospitals, banks, etc - essentially guaranteeing a power supply in the case of an emergency for various needs like charging mobile phones, heat and shelter. For a rural village with much lower energy needs and a disruptive power supply from the grid, a community solar microgrid offers residents the option of operating completely independent from the grid. I came across an excellent implementation of this concept through the weekly energy chats hosted by the Energy Club, where I came into contact with the leader of the Georgia Tech chapter of the IEEE PES Solar Microgrid Project for rural electrification in Haiti. His presentation on his team’s work in installing a solar microgrid in a remote area in Haiti gave me hope that such a concept could be a definite success in underdeveloped regions around the world whose people wish to increase their energy security.
Though this Fellowship ends in another three weeks, I hope to continue working in the energy space for years to come, and combine my passions for clean energy technology with my aptitude for data analytics to accelerate the world’s transition to clean energy.
About the Author:
Nikhil Dhawan is a mechanical engineering senior at Georgia Tech and is also pursuing a minor in Energy Systems. He serves a key role in the operations team of the Energy Club at Georgia Tech, which involves securing funding from organizations for club events. Throughout his academic journey at Georgia Tech, he has performed undergraduate research in Perovskite Solar Cells, designed a net-energy positive solar-powered home, and is currently engaged in simulations of Hybrid Electric Vehicle Powertrains to further his desire of a cleaner transportation system.