TTP in Cambridge has teamed up with a social enterprise in Bangladesh to develop a DC-DC converter that supports smart peer-to-peer energy microgrid networks.
The grids are controlled by the SOLbox trading platform developed by ME SOLshare. This enables real-time trading of electricity generated by solar power, allowing users to earn a direct income selling excess electricity to their neighbours.
The improvements to the SOLbox trading platform aims to increase the supply of sustainable electrical power to communities in developing countries via a microgrid network.
The higher-efficiency, isolated bi-directional DC-to-DC power converter developed by TTP and SOLshare aims to deliver a ten-fold increase in the amount of electricity that can be shared across these grids, from the current limit of 100W to 1kW per unit. This will mean more households can use or sell electricity and run more appliances at a higher power.
TTP is using its power electronics expertise in the joint development of the bi-directional power converter, and will develop, for mass-production, the boards for the SOLbox. These include the metering, wireless communications, safety, power conversion and user interface functions. The two companies plan to have a prototype of the new system shortly.
Globally, almost one billion people lack access to electricity, and another billion have intermittent supply. For areas without reliable electrical infrastructure, installing solar panels on homes can be an attractive way to generate power locally and sustainably.
However, high installation costs mean this option is out of reach for many people. Additionally, an average of approximately US$1 billion of power is wasted every year due to unutilised excess power by individual systems. The peer-to-peer microgrid approach is one way of overcoming these issues. Selling excess power provides income to mitigate installation costs, while the option to buy power from the micro-grid can provide electricity to other households in need. Sharing electricity in this way can power entire villages.
Next: Microgrid rollout
SOLshare has installed over 28 microgrid system across Bangladesh, as well as in India, and aims to have 160 more running around the world by the end of 2020.
“We are really pleased to be involved in such a rewarding project, one that has the potential to transform the lives of people in some of the world’s poorest communities. This project is just one example of how technology can be leveraged as a powerful force for real social change and economic development,” said Dr David Smith, Head of Industrial Technology at TTP.
“TTP has the engineering and product development expertise to dramatically improve the capabilities of our SOLbox platform and with that, our service offering to low-income communities in hard to reach areas across the globe. This collaboration enables us to leapfrog in our technology development and improve lives,” said Dr Sebastian Groh, Managing Director at ME SOLshare Ltd
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