Basic Energy Services - Technologies

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Basic Energy Services in a Nutshell: Context| Basics | Energy Systems


Energy access is essential for all human development. Not only is it important for individual survival, it is necessary for the provision of social services such as education, health and a critical input into all economic sectors from household production or farming, to industry.[1] Provision of this energy is not only about the source or the technology used, but the end user has to be considered as well. In cases where there is availability of readily usable energy and efficient energy converting technologies, there are better conditions for development of individuals, households, communities, the society and economies. Therefore there has to be an energy source with the right technology and the correct usage behavior.[2]
This can be related to cooking energy which is a complex system which comprises issues related to the energy supply, the end user devices (e.g. cook stoves), and the user behavior. While fuel supply and improved cook stoves have been given a lot of attention, the users’ capacity to manage the fuel, to handle the stove in the right way, and to manage the cooking process in an energy efficient way are the most difficult and neglected aspects of the cooking energy system. It is only through the way people use their resources, that the actual quality of the (energy) service is realized.[3]

On-Grid and Off-Grid Energy Supply

On- Grid Connection refers to electric connection that is connected to a main Electrical Grid that connects electricity from a supplied to the consumer. The connection consists of a generating station that produces electrical power that is transmitted through power lines to the individual customers.[4]
Off Grid Connection on the other hand refers to refers to not being connected to an electrical grid .This kind of connection can be through a Stand-Alone system or Mini-Grids which are typically to provide smaller communities with electricity.
The off grid electricity connection is an electricity access method that is commonly used in countries and areas with little or no access to electricity so that they can have access to Electric Energy or Thermal Energy.
As the unit Population Density /or Urbanization rates increases considerably, grid extension is not likely to be cost- effective in providing electricity for a large part of the population, this will only happen if there is a large subsidies in the connection. Even then, different beneficiaries can be provided with modern lower cost alternatives as a solution. However this specific solutions are likely to change over time caused by, economic condition of the area and /or the beneficiary, effectively setting in motion a process whereby individual households, institutions, or firms follow their own path towards ever increasing modern energy service levels and lower costs of service.
Decentralized solutions are also pursued by governments outside of grid areas, either on an individual basis (i.e., for individual consumers) or for a distinct group of beneficiaries (such as an isolated village with a mini grid).[5]

Stand-Alone Technologies

Stand-alone Power System is an off-the–grid electricity system provided to small communities or remote areas where there is no electricity distribution network.[6]

For a typical stand alone power system, there has to be one or more mode of electricity generation, energy storage and energy regulation.

For a stand-alone energy system to function fully some Balance-of-System equipment is required,this includes:

  • Batteries
  • Charge controller
  • Power conditioning equipment
  • Safety equipment
  • Meters and instrumentation.

Energy-saving cooking stoves, Pv solar home systems, PV lanterns, solar dryers and productive uses based on PV are among the frequently promoted individual solutions.

Mini Grids

Mini Grids are an electric source preferred by households that desire more electricity than individual Photovoltaic (PV) Systems or PV lanterns can provide.In the mini grid, the power is centrally generated and distributed via a network. Mini grids can supply electricity from a variety of energy sources and with different costs and quality. Some of the energy sources include: diesel , micro hydro, photovoltaic or a combination of diesel with renewable energy source.[5]

Mini grids operating on diesel can provide high quality electricity quickly; however the high costs implications related to it often results to a reduction in service delivery. On the other hand Mini grids supplied from micro hydro plants can provide lower-cost electricity, particularly when located in areas with substantial rainfall and rivers; however, some specific technical skills are required, investment costs are relatively high, and particularly local management and ownership require special attention.[5]

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