Energy for rural third world communities

I am currently residing in Bolivia, S. America where 2 million are living without electricity. My organization has been asked by the Dept. of Energy here to come up with renewable energy projects for small rural communities of 50 homes outside or "off the grid" and water pumps. I have been investigating for a week on this now and I am so glad to actually have found this site! The first interest here (for the Dept. of Energy) is for wind turbine minigrids with batteries. Although I think hybrid systems are more efficient. Please, any info, technology or where I could go to learn more would be greatly appriciated. :D

Comments

  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,033 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Energy for rural thir world communities

    I think solar PV will be more reliable after 3 years installed, then wind turbines would be.....
    Water pumping is a heavy job, what about the old fashioned water pump windmills (Aeromotor.......) that were used all over the USA west, in the 1800-1950's ?

    For night lighting, a pallet of PV rechargeable flashlights would be a start, and then after folks are used to "recharging" grow to a larger system.

    But walking in with PV's inverters, batteries, wires and appliances, without teaching (for months/year) how to manage the system, and it's doomed.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • stephendvstephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
    Re: Energy for rural third world communities

    Solar / Diesel hybrid systems can work well if there's a local crop that yields a combustible oil. See: http://www.sonne-ueber-mbinga.de/en/mbinga/solar/ where they describe a project using Jatropha oil and a modified diesel generator.

    Rural electrification document from the World Bank which might be interesting: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTENERGY2/Resources/OffgridGuidelines.pdf?resourceurlname=OffgridGuidelines.pdf
  • solarixsolarix Solar Expert Posts: 713 ✭✭
    Re: Energy for rural third world communities

    I imagine you are familiar with rope pumps which are common all over latin america. No good in the USA as they can't be made "sanitary", but can be virtually made (and repaired) yourself. I've done it myself and even motorized one to run directly on solar. Google "rope pump" for the plans and instructions.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Energy for rural third world communities

    thanks for the responses,, I would hope to repond to each of you myself..

    Mike, what about the reliability with VAWTs? In California a company called wind harvest have come up with LAVTs linear array vortex turbine systems. they claim to be efficient as HAWTs and reliable... What is wanted is a centralized location where energy is stored and through lines power homes, are VAWTs easier to manage than PV systems?

    Stephen, jatropha is great although it would take a few years to grow.. I will check out those links, there is a company from singapore that wants to grow it here because the climate on the eastern part is ideal and as a matter of fact that is the general area in where most Off the grid communities live.

    Solar, I actually haven't heard of that.. I imagine that not much power is needed, I will check that out, thanks
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,033 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Energy for rural third world communities

    http://windharvest.com/turbines
    since 1975, and they still are not selling turbines, just sucking up investors $$
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Energy for rural third world communities

    What about Weole wind turbines? They claim to be reliable.

    Another company named Windspire that makes vawts gave 3 to the institute of technology of california where a professor named John Dabiri did research on vawt clusters that resemble the patterns of schools of fish micro sitting the vawts as a staricase where some spin clockwise and others counter.. what do you think??
    http://dabiri.caltech.edu/research/wind-energy.html
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,033 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Energy for rural third world communities

    Show me one (any one) VAWT that has lasted 6 months in field test, that is for sale.
    There are none that I know of.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • hillbillyhillbilly Solar Expert Posts: 334 ✭✭
    Re: Energy for rural third world communities

    I would think that in many parts of Bolivia you would have ideal conditions for small scale hydro as well, LOTS of gradient on those creeks dropping out of the Andes.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,070 admin
    Re: Energy for rural third world communities

    To try and quantify the needs vs density of power in the areas you want to electrify...

    How many Watt*Hours per day (by season?) is need per system (and/or per home)?

    What are the average hours of sun per day (seasonally) and what is the average wind speed per day (again seasonally) and at what height was this measured (10 meter is probably the minimum, 20 meters would be much better, 100-120 meter for large installations)?

    What is the length of electric lines for a typical installation (small, compact village--or significant amount of distribution lines)?

    Bolivia looks like it can have fairly good solar (4-6 hours of sun per day, depending on the region).

    Wind, I am not sure... There was a wind map released for Bolivia per this press release--but I cannot find the server.

    Here is a recent project from 3Tier that you may be able to get wind data from too:

    PDF Report on wind resources in Bolivia

    From a quick scan--Wind speed distrubtion in Bolivia is like every other region in the world... A few regions near mountain ranges with high prevailing winds and not much elsewhere.

    Solar PV projects seem to be something easier to widely distribute as the weather / solar radiation is generally more consistent and predictable across the country.

    In the end, if you have wind, a Aeromotor or similar "low tech" solution for pumping water would not only support the immediate needs of the population (water)--It is also low tech enough that the locals should be able to much of their own maintenance with indigenous supplies and resources. Plus, it can become a self sustaining industry in its own right (machining, manufacturing) instead of simply importing high tech wind turbines from elsewhere.

    Solar PV---Much of the equipment (panels, charge controllers, inverters, etc.) will probably be imported from outside the region--but it tends to be rather low maintenance/cost when compared to Wind Turbines...

    Turbines may run 1 to a few years between overhaul / replacement.

    Solar panels should last over 20 years, and the electronics around 10 years.

    Batteries for both systems would need replacing every 5-10 years or so--depending on quality and maintenance.

    I am a big believer in starting small... A single solar panel + battery can supply power for a few LED lamps and a cell phone charger (communications with markets/family/etc.), and a bit of entertainment (radio/TV).

    When "owned' by a family--they are likely to take great care of the equipment.

    A communal system may be more of a tax and source of corruption (copper distribution wire / parts / etc. stolen, etc.).

    Once people have the small in-home systems--They may graduate to a local utility type system as their needs (and hopefully income) grow.

    Anyway--some ideas.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • russruss Solar Expert Posts: 593 ✭✭
    Re: Energy for rural third world communities

    I have yet to see any single honest report that makes the Mariah Windspire look like anything more than a very expensive lawn ornament.

    Their big mistake was going to NREL for third party testing - that showed the unit to be junk.

    I believe that since that fiasco they have been using third parties that they can assist in writing the report - to say what they want.

    Russ
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,070 admin
    Re: Energy for rural third world communities

    There was a thread that had a big report from Europe where they setup ~10 different "small wind" systems and one medium sized industrial turbine...

    The single large turbine cost much less to install, was more reliable, and generated as much power as the 10 small turbines put together.

    Small windpower a scam ? Survey says SO

    Note--I am not a fan of small wind--So take anything I say with a grain of salt.

    I have included some links below that lay out the issues with small wind and forums that help people design/build small wind systems--Again, do your own research and ask questions here (and elsewhere):

    Wind Power Links
    www.otherpower.com (good forum for DIY Wind Power)
    Hugh Piggott - Scoraig Wind Electric site for tons of info (from mike90045)
    www.greenpowertalk.org (added from "russ"--Like here but more wind/less solar)
    Truth About Skystream & SWWP
    Windmax HY-2000 2kW Wind Turbine (apparently, some vendors don't sell spare parts--just new turbines)

    And a general DIY Solar Builder site:

    www.builditsolar.com

    Wind power can certainly make sense in some situations--but unless you have:
    1. high average wind speeds (i.e., "flagging" of trees from prevailing winds--pretty much the turbine will only produce power when it is a miserably windy day (unless you have a very tall tower)
    2. a 20 meter or taller tower (10 meters above obstructions and 300-500 feet away)
    3. a reliable turbine with several over-speed safety features (such as: electrical loading, physical braking, furling, feathering of blades, etc.)
    4. ability to service the turbine at (probably) once a year (boom truck, tilting tower)
    5. a turbine with a history of, at least, 1 year in real weather conditions without failure
    6. can get parts to repair/overhaul the turbine
    7. can get parts/on-site spares to repair/replace electronics/inverters/charge controllers as needed
    8. As Russ says--VAWT (vertical axis wind turbines) appear to be expensive "toys" at this point in time.
    9. HAWT (horizontal axis wind turbines) are exposed to seriously dangerous forces in high winds. Turbine and tower need to be designed to withstand expected maximum force winds for region (with multiple safety features as above) and installed where, possible, falling parts will not endanger people.
    10. Avoid placement where Noise and Flicker (shadows through blades) may cause issues with people nearby.
    11. Avoid small turbines with a lot of complex electronics in the nacelle... At the top of the tower is an extremely tough environment (vibration, temperature, water, etc.). With electronics at the base or in the shed--you that is one less reason you have to drop the turbine for service.
    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • techntrektechntrek Solar Expert Posts: 1,372 ✭✭✭
    Re: Energy for rural third world communities

    Newbee - you may want to order the back-edition CD of Homepower (link below). I believe it covers up to early 2009. They have several articles on solar systems installed in small remote villages, plus hundreds of articles on system design. As others have mentioned, I would not recommend micro wind systems due to the maintenance necessary. A large central wind system will be just as useless if funding/training/parts do not remain in place over the long haul.

    http://homepower.com/store/index.cfm?page=item&pid=15
    4.5 kw APC UPS powered by a Prius, 12 kw Generac, Honda EU3000is
  • russruss Solar Expert Posts: 593 ✭✭
    Re: Energy for rural third world communities

    What about Weole wind turbines?

    I see they do sell the Scirocco 5.5-6 which is one of the reputable brands - the name Weole I have never heard before and I expect I have read more than most people on the topic.

    An excellent document that is a free download - HomePower 2010 wind turbine buyers guide http://homepower.com/view/?file=HP137_pg44_Woofenden

    Russ
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,070 admin
    Re: Energy for rural third world communities

    You may also want to contact our host Northern Arizona Wind & Sun--They got their start 30 years ago helping to "electrify" the local reservations... Lots of sun, probably not very dense (population per sq.mile wise), and fairly remote installations (local users are responsible for their own maintenance/repairs/replacement equipment costs).
    Northern Arizona Wind & Sun
    4091 E Huntington Drive, Suite B
    Flagstaff, AZ 86004
    Flagstaff office: (800) 383-0195 or 928-526-8017
    FAX Flagstaff: 928-527-0729
    Office hours: 8 AM to 4 PM, Mon-Fri. Closed on most major (federal) holidays.
    Northern Arizona Wind & Sun, Inc. has been selling and installing solar electric systems and components full time since 1979. Many of our first projects were installing 30 watt solar panels on hogans on the Navajo reservation, where the nearest power line was often 50 miles away, and so was the nearest paved road. The company was incorporated in 1984. Our sales have grown steadily over the past few years, and we are now one of the largest solar retailers in the US. We have installed and sold thousands of PV power systems for communications, cathodic protection, remote home sites, water pumping, telemetry, and RV and battery maintenance system
    I am sure they can give you a lot of information on the "human engineering" side of the rural electrification issues.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Energy for rural third world communities

    Great info you guys!

    Small wind doesn't seem to be ideal for renewable energy here, taking to account the info givin by BB, So I started researching PV technology and well I hope you all can clarify a few questions I have.

    With all the different types of PV Cell technology, which between monocrystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon, amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride, and copper indium selenide/sulfide have a higher convertion ratio?

    I knew about sawing (monocrystalline silicon) but are wafers and sliver cells or more efficient?

    What about concentrator modules or using concentration of light tech? Are they too expensive right now? Are they even on the market?

    Same questions for triple layer designs.

    In your opinion, which of these would be ideal for rural low watt usage as far as cost and efficiency?

    If a centralized power sorce that feeds a minigrid is necessary, would it be better bottom line, to use less higher convertion ratio cells than more common lower convertion PV cells?

    And if not, then would it be much less costly to buy blocks of silicon and saw them and build panels here (correctly of course) than importing them. Although inverters and batteries would have to be imported.

    Oh and do you know where I could find the most economical solar powered led lamps?

    Thanks again,
    - Manuel
  • stephendvstephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
    Re: Energy for rural third world communities
    With all the different types of PV Cell technology which between monocrystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon, amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride, and copper indium selenide/sulfide has a higher convertion ratio?

    If I were you, I would ignore all of the differences between the various cell technologies. The biggest overriding concern for most solar projects is simply the cost per Watt per year.
    So firstly, sort out the "per year" part of the equation by selecting well a well known manufacturer, particularly someone who will guarantee the output to 80% after 25 years. And then make a judgement call on whether the company will likely be around in 25 years.
    Then it's a matter of selecting the best price/Watt. When considering this, also take into account the mounting structure - this is particularly important for the thin film technologies (amorphous, CdTe and CIS) as they can require double the space for the same W output.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,070 admin
    Re: Energy for rural third world communities

    Probably cost is going to be the major issue... If the panels last 10 years--probably long enough. At that point, people move, families change, power needs will evolve. So I don't think I would pay a premium for a 25 year panel when a 10 year may be 1/3rd the price right now.

    Yes, crystalline are more efficient and almost 1/2 the size (square inches/meters/etc.) vs most of the amorphous and other types... But if you are talking about single 10-40 watt panels as a start--Size will only be a shipping cost issue and not a mounting space.

    You may run into some issues with the Cadmium panels and the rules about heavy metals... I don't know how much cadmium is present in panels--but if the solar program takes off, you may need to figure out what happens to the old panels and any toxic metals/chemicals they may contain.

    Batteries (lead acid, NiCad, solder, etc.) will also have similar disposal issues. NiMH batteries will have less of a disposal issue--but all of this adds up over time. If the systems start small, at least the impact will be small for the near future.

    Regarding LEDs... The standard white LEDs that you see everywhere (the Txx package of a plastic cylinder with a round dome top) are cheap and plentiful--But they tend to not last very long because of problems with heat dissipation. 100's to a 1,000 hours or so of life is not uncommon.

    The better LED's (Cree and others) cost way more (better materials and mounted on heavy heat sinks) and should last longer.

    The Candle Power Forums has more about LED's than you will ever want to know...

    And there are lots of interesting alternatives out there too--the solar powered flash lights, Cell Phones that flip open with solar panels on front and back for charging, etc. Construction options (water proof, dust proof). All depends on the local needs.

    I don't know how much in the way of natural resources there is in the areas you are looking to help... Barren plains or can grow bamboo and other "interesting" (and potentially invasive species)--There are a lot of projects out there that bring in the components and then use local materials/craftsmen (search on the "Rope Pump" as recommended earlier) to build the products.

    Whatever you try--It would probably make sense to not pick the "ideal solution" but offer different options (single home systems, small village power, etc.) and see what works best over time for the local culture and needs.

    Combining things like local solar power plus a cell phone network for the region can (hopefully) really cause an improvement in the local lives...

    NY Times Article about Africa, small scale solar, and cell phones

    I am guessing that the major problems involve setting up a procurement/import/delivery system, training for local people to operate the program/equipment, and money (in that order).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • dwhdwh Solar Expert Posts: 1,341 ✭✭✭
    Re: Energy for rural third world communities

    I agree with hillbilly - hire this guy as a consultant:

    http://ludens.cl/paradise/turbine/turbine.html
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,033 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Energy for rural thir world communities

    Article in NY Times about same sort of thing:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/25/science/earth/25fossil.html?_r=1


    And of course, solar water pasteurization and solar cooking are right there too.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • blackswan555blackswan555 Solar Expert Posts: 246 ✭✭
    Re: Energy for rural third world communities

    On inverters and charge controller`s may be worth a look at http://outbackpower.com reliable equipment with good tech Help & service.

    Tim
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Energy for rural third world communities

    South Florida home in the Miami Herald

    http://www.miamiherald.com/163/story/253529.html

    Start-Up Sells Solar Panels at Lower-Than-Usual Cost

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/18/technology/18solar.html?_r=1&8br&oref=slogin

    Single Phase Off-Grid Sunny Island System Kit 7 Kwh/day system

    http://www.tttrading.co.za/productsoffgridsolar.htm


    Wholesale Solar's Complete Off-Grid Systems

    http://www.wholesalesolar.com/products.folder/systems-folder/OffGridPackages.html#LargeOffgridHome


    Soluz Dominicana

    http://www.soluzusa.com/redcos/soluz_dominicana.html


    The Soluz REDCO Business Model

    http://www.soluzusa.com/redcos/about_soluz_redco.html
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