Off-grid becoming huge

Dr Peter Harrop
Off-grid becoming huge
Off-grid power has been in decline. Widely seeing it as the poor man's option, users have aspired to get beyond it to the more secure, "troublefree" world of on-grid - or so they believed. However, that is now changing with cost and security benefits of off-grid. Edison's advice to, "Make electricity where you need it" becomes increasingly sensible. For example, businesses in Las Vegas newly make electricity from their own solar farms in the desert, the on-grid connection remaining only as a lifebelt in the event of problems.
Such huge schemes are no longer confined to advanced nations. Electricity access in Niger is below 1% in rural areas, while in urban areas its rate ranges up to 40% at best in smaller cities and only 50% in Niamey, the capital. In 2016, the country's peak demand reached only 260 MW for 20.7 million people.
Now Niger's cabinet has ratified an agreement with the International Development Association for $50.3 million financing for the Niger Solar Electricity Access Project, bringing off-grid solar power to rural communities. The project consists of market development of stand-alone PV installations, rural electrification through service-based solar hybrid mini-grids, PV hybridization of isolated thermal mini-grids operated by the country's utility Nigerien Electricity Society (NIGELEC), implementation support and technical assistance.
Currently, Niger's power system depends heavily on imports from Nigeria: four grids that are interconnected with Nigeria and diesel-based isolated grids. Getting diesel to remote locations is very expensive. As with cars, diesel generation is linked to health problems and maintenance costs and it is no longer favored.
The IDTechEx report, "High Power Energy Harvesting Off-grid 2017-2027" appraises the alternatives and gives forecasts and there is an even bigger picture as well. Energy independent electric vehicles EIV never refuel, not even with electricity. They use wind, sun and other "free" ambient energy to make electricity that propels them along with no emissions.The world's first conference on "Energy Independent Electric Vehicles" takes place at the Technical University of Delft Netherlands 27-28 September. This IDTechEx event has six optional masterclasses teaching the market and the technologies on Sept. 26 and 29, a small exhibition and a drinks reception viewing the world's finest solar racing cars and boats. Learn how even the largest ships will become energy independent with solar roads as decking, tethered drones tapping the stronger and more consistent winds higher up and many other emerging options. This Airborne Wind Energy ticks two boxes: it uses energy positive electric vehicles ad they can help make large land and water vehicles energy independent. See the IDTechEx report, "Airborne Wind Energy AWE 2017-2027". At the event, learn how expensive, troublesome energy storage is reduced and sometimes eliminated in EIVs. Toyota and other giants speak alongside remarkable smaller companies advancing this off-grid technology - the way of the future.