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Solar Energy Microgrid for Remote Locations

We realize that many locations in remote areas may not have electrical power to run the equipment needed to deliver these services, so we have worked with providers to create a solar energy package capable of powering these systems.


Some background on electricity

AC current: Alternating current is the type of electricity that is supplied by power delivered from a public source. You access AC electricity when you plug an appliance or other device into a wall outlet.

DC current: Direct current is the type of electricity typically supplied by batteries or solar panels. DC-powered devices typically have their own battery (such as a laptop) or are made for mobile environments. Many of these come with an AC adapter to convert the AC power in a wall outlet to the DC power needed by the device.

Solar Implementation Design

This design of our Solar Kit is different than all off-grid systems we’ve come across.  Since the power requirements needed to provide computer technology to a classroom or clinic is not large (such as with heating or operating large motors), we’ve been able to create a complete system that does not involve AC (Alternating Current).

Challenge:  This system will be installed in many hot locations, on or near the equator.  Overly hot systems will wear out quickly.

The following diagram shows the components of a typical solar power system:

ACSolar - Solar Energy
Click image to enlarge

In this configuration, the Inverter is the component that generates the most heat and is usually the first to wear out, especially in hot, dusty environments.  We’ve already mentioned that heat makes electronic components and other machinery wear out faster.  To reduce the consequences of the heat they produce, the manufacturers add fans to keep the devices cooler.  Unfortunately, in places like Africa or the Middle East, these fans draw dust into the machine or component, thereby wearing them out even faster.

We have been successful, however, to create an alternative setup where the entire system runs low-voltage, DC current and cool.

DCSolar - Solar Energy
Click image to enlarge

 

Components

A typical “Solar Kit” will include solar panels, mounting equipment for the panels, a solar panel controller, storage battery (or batteries), and low power equipment for the locations served by these applications:

  • Education: 12-15 ruggedized Chromebooks (per equipped classroom), a 32” flat screen monitor for hanging on the wall, 3G/4G (5G where available) router, charging station, panel, cabinet
  • HealthCare: 2-3 Chromebooks, scanner (used to scan existing medical records), ID card reader (optional), 3G/4G (5G where available) router, charging station, panel, cabinet

Most of the indoor components will be pre-installed in a rolling cabinet, so no installation should be required for almost all components and what needs to be installed will remain a simple process.