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.