Sustainable Development Goal targets
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Delivering SDG7 by providing secure access to modern electricity for over 1 billion people globally demands innovation in technology, policy and delivery models. Microgrids, defined as energy generation and supply systems with maximum capacity of 100kW having capabilities of managing local energy supply, are proving a viable solution for remote rural areas in the global South with no prospect of main grid connection. While steady technological progress in the microgrid sector is being observed, effective planning methodologies and delivery models are key to sustainable microgrid implementation.
The University of Strathclyde and United Purpose Malawi are partnering to set up a social enterprise with a mission to reduce energy poverty through provision of reliable electricity to remote communities via solar microgrids in Malawi. Funding has been secured for two pilot micro-grids, with the first installed in 2020. Data is being collected on technical performance, customer energy demand and payments, as well as social impact monitoring and evaluation data.
This project aims to utilise our increasing access to field data (technical and social) to study the performance of microgrids in Malawi. Specifically, the project will develop:
- Tools for processing, analysing and visualising microgrid technical data such as demand, PV generation and storage State of Charge, as well as social impact data. With growing access to multiple sources of real data, via a range of hosted platforms, we need to be able to aggregate and study that data.
- Using the outputs of technical and social data analysis to create better, generic, inputs for microgrid design.
- Developing the business model (including innovative tariffs) for fleets of microgrids utilising field data.
The ultimate objective of this project is to inform a business strategy for United Purpose to scale their microgrid operations nationally, while providing much needed insight into microgrid performance to inform the growing microgrids sector globally. The project will utilise real-life project data to be analysed and used to accelerate sustainable microgrid businesses delivering solar electricity to rural customers across Malawi.
What will students be doing
The key objective of the project is to develop a Microgrid Performance Dashboard, in order to provide online data visualisation of key microgrid performance data, including generation, demand and social impact performance, allowing a user/microgrid manager to choose what data to see with charts and visualisation.
Students will then utilise the platform to provide recommendation on more efficient and sustainable microgrid deployments and business models that are more financially viable with increased social impact.
Through this project, students will gain contextual experience of solar microgrids and develop an understanding of their contribution to the SDGs; and gain technical skills in data processing, visualisation and website design. Students will also gain and understanding of business models for solar microgrids.