Neoenergia
Image: Neoenergia

Brazilian energy distributor Neoenergia is to pilot its first microgrid in a remote area not yet served with electricity.

The community of Xique-Xique in the municipality of Remanso in northeast Brazil will be the recipient of Neoenergia’s first microgrid as part of a pilot to bring electricity to rural areas not yet served.

The microgrid will comprise solar PV with a capacity to generate 240kW DC/180kW AC, sufficient to serve 103 residential units with an average 80kWh, and storage batteries that can guarantee supply for 48 hours to cover periods of low solar generation.

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The project currently in the planning phase is expected to start operating in the first half of 2021 and to benefit approximately 400 people.

“At the moment, Neoenergia offers two solutions to serve isolated customers: we extend the conventional network or implement individualised solar systems,” says Débora Catão, Smart Grids engineer at Neoenergia.

“Microgrids, with centralised generation and storage, can be a solution to improve the efficiency and quality of supply.”

The project draws on resources from the regulator Aneel’s research and development programme as well as the national government’s Luz para Todos (Light for All) universal access to electricity initiative.

Microgrids have been little explored in Brazil and the project should provide insights both on the technology and on rural electrification.

The project also will evaluate the application of supercapacitors as a storage solution, which so far has not been tested in the field. In addition, the degradation of solar PV in the environment will be analysed.

The design of the microgrid is based on a consumption study conducted in the community. Another key focus of the project is to investigate the social and economic development impacts with the expectation that with positive community response, a decline in technology costs could go hand in hand with increasing market penetration.

Participating in the research is LabSolar, the first solar system certification laboratory in Brazil’s northeast region, which was inaugurated by Neoenergia in partnership with the Physics Institute of the Federal University of Bahia and the Bahia state government.