The 26 solar hybrid microgrids are connected with central monitoring and control through a shared SCADA system.
The aim of the project, which was undertaken by German microgrid specialist DHYBRID with support from the Maldivian Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Technology, was to improve energy generation on the islands and reduce reliance on imported diesel.
With this both the costs of energy, which at US$0.20-0.70 have been among the highest in southern Asia, and emissions are reduced.
The 26 island microgrids on the Shaviyani and Noonu Atolls in the north of the Maldives comprise approximately 2.65MW of solar energy capacity and around 3.2MWh of battery storage, with diesel for back-up.
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The impacts are reported to have been immediately noticeable. For example, on Fohdoo, a 100kW PV installation supplies almost one-third of the island’s electricity, saving around 35,000l of diesel per year.
“The generator remains shut off for the majority of the day,” says Abdulla Nashith, Director of the Technical Services and Green Energy Department of Fenaka Corporation Limited, a state-owned utility company which is responsible for most of the southern atolls.
The microgrids are monitored in the utility’s central monitoring stations at Fenaka’s headquarters in the Maldivian capital city of Malé.
DHYBRID’s central energy management system, the Universal Power Platform (UPP), dynamically controls all energy flows in the grid, from the battery inverter to the diesel generator. It also continuously measures the grid and storage system parameters as well as the load profiles and prioritises solar energy whenever possible. Only when the combined power from the PV installation and storage system is insufficient the diesel unit switches on.
The solar addition to the existing microgrids on both atolls is part of the Preparing Outer Islands for Sustainable Energy Development (POISED) project, which sees to making the energy supply of the outer atolls and islands as well as the region surrounding the main island of Malé sustainable.
New solar-diesel hybrid grids are in the pipeline in the next several years for 69 more Maldivian islands. They will also be linked to the central SCADA system.
In addition to supplying components and connecting the system, DHYBRID is also training local personnel in operations.