In the dark of night, students in a rural village in Ghana huddle around a kerosene lamp to complete their homework. Others shine flashlights to illuminate textbooks. The lack of electricity, nonetheless computers, dimmed the prospects of a bright future for students in the village of Kpantarigo. This was until Francis Abugbilla, a second-year doctoral student at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle, brought electricity to them in the form of solar power.

“The world is technologically-driven. I want to empower the children in my community by giving them a quality education,” he said. “I don’t want the children in my village [of Kpantarigo] to lag behind the world.”

Even though his village of over 1,500 had no electricity, computers, schools or clinics, he knew from his own experience that education is the impetus for change.

Making education matter
Born and raised in a small farming community, Abugbilla worked as a shepherd and began his formal education at 12. He was determined to excel. He walked nearly two hours a day to and from the elementary school in another village. The money his family scraped together paid for the kerosene to light the lamp for his studies.

“I was economically disadvantaged,” Abugbilla said. “Education was the key to change my family’s situation and my community.”

At 17, he participated in a French quiz competition in the regional capital of Bolgatanga. This day changed his life: It was the first time he saw a computer.

“At first, I thought it was a TV because of the desktop monitor,” Abugbilla laughed. “I needed to know how it worked and how I could use it.”

Later in high school, he looked over the shoulders of his classmates. He was mesmerized as they pounded keys and information magically appeared on the screen. He wasn’t confident enough to try. Until his instructor publicly shamed him.

“He said why can’t you do the basic things on a computer,” Abugbilla recalled. “My self-esteem was quite low.”

Determined to prove his instructor wrong, Abugbilla practiced typing with the help of a friend. Not long after, he bought his own Hewlett-Packard laptop as part of a scholarship he earned for his studies.

Becoming a global steward
Abugbilla excelled in his undergraduate studies at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, where he earned a bachelor’s of education in French honors degree with a minor in English. But he had his sights on coming to America. He applied to the University of Arizona, Tucson and received a full-ride scholarship.

Francis Abugbilla

Francis Abugbilla, a Jackson School doctoral candidate, shares solar power with students in Ghana. Pictured is Francis giving a solar lamp to one of three winners of a global affairs competition that he initiated, September 2018.

As one of five to graduate from college in his village and the only one to obtain a master’s degree, Abugbilla was determined to climb the highest rung of education.

After completing his master’s degree in French, he applied for doctoral programs at 10 universities including the University of Washington’s Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies.

He received six acceptances with four full-ride scholarships. But the UW’s Jackson School stood amongst the crowd.

“I chose the Jackson School because of the accelerated nature of the program. It is not like the traditional doctoral program. I wanted to experience academia and the practical side of the policy world,” he said.

Abugbilla also received the Henry M. Jackson Doctoral Fellowship, funded by the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, that annually supports a deserving doctoral student with promising potential.

Finding a meaningful solution
Despite all his accomplishments, Abugbilla didn’t forget about the young people in his village.

“I had this idea of bringing electricity to my village through solar panels,” he said. “It was this daunting task. I didn’t know who to reach out to, where to turn, how would I fund this?”

Abugbilla shares a Ghanaian proverb: “The gods that look for yams for a child in the forest, will look for a hoe for digging the yams.” Where there is a vision, there is a provision, he explained.

In 2018, he found that chance thanks to the UW Marcy Migdal Fund for Educational Equality, a $1,000 fund supporting exceptional students engaged in finding meaningful solutions to global problems. With the support, Abugbilla installed a solar panel in the village school, allowing teachers to prepare lessons and students to have computer lessons and return to the school in the evening to do their homework. He also initiated an annual global studies competition in the school.The equipment installed include the Victron Energy Phoenix Inverter VE.Direct 500VA and  Victron Energy BlueSolar MPPT 75/15 

The Marcy Migdal fund is administered by the Center for Global Studies, which is housed at the Jackson School and is also a U.S. Department of Education National Resource Center. Students from all three campuses are encouraged to apply for the fellowship in February, with awardees announced in June.

Joel Migdal, professor of international studies who set up the Migdal fund in his late wife’s name said: “I couldn’t think of a project that my late wife, Marcy, who was an educator and social justice activist, would have found more meaningful than that of Francis’s. It brought tears to my eyes.”

Abugbilla continues to fundraise on GoFundMe to expand the solar panel project. He said he has been overwhelmed by the support he received from UW students, professors and others in the community.

“The Marcy Migdal fund was the tool to get me to dig the yam,” Abugbilla beamed. “It was the opportunity that opened more opportunities for me.” Tamara Leonard, Managing Director of the Center for Global Studies, added that the project exemplifies the kind of work that the Fund is intended to support.

Teaching others at UW and beyond
Shortly after initiating his solar power project, Abugbilla was invited to and participated in the Clinton Global Initiative University Annual Conference at the University of Chicago, an event honoring student leaders dedicated to addressing pressing challenges in the world. He also recently served as the keynote speaker for the 2019 Africa Now Youth Leadership Conference, an organization based in Seattle dedicated to inspiring African youth. In June 2019, he will attend the Global Youth Advancement Summit at the Michigan State University to talk about his solar power project.

Thanks in part to support from Carnegie Corporation of New York, in winter 2020 Abugbilla will help teach a course in the Donald C. Hellmann Task Force Program, an experiential learning capstone for undergraduate international studies majors. The Task Force, on energy interventions in Sub-Saharan Africa, will be led by Danny Hoffman, a professor in anthropology at the UW.

While Abugbilla plans on continuing his research at the Jackson School with a focus on peace, violence and security, his heart is still in Ghana.

“The goal is to electrify the schools  with solar power and then scale it up to the entire community,” he said. “It is important that people take their destiny into their own hands and effect the needed change in their lives. I want to spur them into thinking innovatively and outside the box.”

As just one of five in his village and in his family to graduate from college, and the only one to earn a master’s degree, Abugbilla is well on his way to propelling his community with solar power and the world forward.

Interested in learning more or supporting Francis’s “Empower Kids Through Technology” project? Click here.

About the author
Mary AndomMary Andom is a graduate student in the master’s in applied international studies program at the UW’s Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies and has a keen interest in immigration and national security issues. She spent eight years working in multinational environments in Germany, Hungary and Kyrgyzstan as a Non-Commissioned officer in the United States Air Force. Prior to enlisting in the military, Mary worked for various news organizations as a reporter and columnist for The Seattle TimesSeattle Post Intelligencer and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

 


Lithium SuperPack batteries – an all in one solution .These new Lithium-Ion, LiFePO4 chemistry batteries are often an ideal replacement for many 12V and 24V marine, automotive, caravan, motorhome, work vans and similar battery applications. It might even be for an overland motorcycle if using the smallest 20Ah version; to recharge a camera, phone or laptop for instance.

Other examples – take a typical small boat or van which may have a 110Ah to 220Ah lead-acid leisure battery for light continuous loads such as lighting, laptops, phones, instruments, powering a diesel heater, a fridge etc. And for shorter term loads maybe add a small inverter to charge power tools, run a small microwave or travel kettle for example. Using one SuperPack battery it matches well with the Phoenix Inverter VE.Direct 250VA – 1200VA range. Maybe you’ll add in around 100 to 200Wp of solar panels too using a small MPPT.

Regardless of the use, whichever SuperPack you choose it’ll be lighter than lead, can be smaller if you wish or give you more Wh in the same space – plus give you around 5 times the cycle life.

The main difference to Victron’s other lithium (often more kWh) offerings are the SuperPacks keep everything in one package, by having an integrated BMS and safety switch built-in. No additional components are needed as the internal switch will disconnect the battery in case of over discharge, over charge or high temperature. Simple, compact and safe.

If you are considering a new battery don’t immediately discount Lithium as being too costly. Whilst it is true that the capital cost of Li-ion is greater than that of quality AGM or Gel batteries – it is also true that the cost of ownership can be less than lead acid types. Much depends on your application, but rest assured – life with Li-ion is far less hassle than lead.

Over the last 8 years on my sailing yacht I’ve run AGM lead leisure batteries and Lithium-Ion propulsion batteries. Initially it was AGM for propulsion before discovering the effectiveness of Lithium. That journey taught me a lot about loads, capacity, cost and battery life – it’s one of the reasons why I think we’ve reached a tipping point and why these new SuperPack batteries may just be the ticket for your next project or battery replacement.

If in the first instance you are unfamiliar with AGM vs Lithium, then here’s a blog that explains that.

When to use a SuperPack?

Every battery size and type has it’s own particular use. For instance you may use the Lithium battery 12,8V & 25,6V Smart and the Lithium battery 24V (LiFePO4 & NMC chemistries) ranges (all of which have an external BMS) in quite different applications to the new SuperPack range. So, where to use the SuperPacks?

When it comes to replacing lead acid type batteries such as AGM and Gel in many applications, the SuperPack range can be considered the next generation after lead – making it far easier to replace lead with lithium. The only caveats being replacement is down to certain parameters being met, namely – Capacity (Ah), Voltages (12.8V & 25.6V), Discharge and Charge currents (C rates). Do in that case be sure that your chosen replacement fits your criteria by checking the datasheet and be aware the SuperPacks can be connected in parallel, but not in series. Hence in that case you would consider the other Victron lithium products named above.

The Lithium SuperPack

Victron Energy’s recently introduced Lithium SuperPack range comes in the following capacities and voltages:

12.8V & 25.6V Lithium SuperPack batteries:

  • 12.8V – 20Ah
  • 12.8V – 60Ah
  • 12.8V – 100Ah
  • 12.8V – 200Ah
  • 25.6V – 50Ah

These SuperPacks will give you 2,500 cycles to 80% depth of discharge at 25°C, much more than lead.

Comparison: SuperPack 60Ah LiFePO4 vs 90Ah AGM

Let’s compare the 60Ah Li-ion to say a typical 90Ah AGM battery discharged to the commonly accepted economic cycle life of 50% discharge for lead. That would give us 600 cycles at that DOD for the AGM compared to 2,500 at the even deeper discharge of 80% for the LiFePO4. Already you can see you may need to replace your lead-acid type battery 2 to 4 times as often as the Lithium. Of course loads, operating conditions and calendar life have to be factored in too. Regardless you get the idea – Lithium does more and lasts longer.

The benefits of Lithium don’t stop there though. Whilst LiFePO4 chemistry is considered the safest of them all, it’s worth considering other factors too to decide whether the reduced weight and volume of say NMC is of more importance for your application than LiFePO4 for example. Victron Energy do both types. These star graphs do a good job of explaining the differences: https://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/types_of_lithium_ion

60Ah SuperPack

90Ah AGM

Weight
9.5kg 27kg
Size (mm)
229 x 138 x 213 350 x 167 x 183
Useable energy @ 25°C
614Wh 540Wh
Cycle life
2,500 cycles 600 cycles
Cost
x 2.5 (approx)  x 1

Notes for the table above:

  • Useable energy and cycle life are based on 80% depth of discharge for Li-ion and 50% for AGM, these being considered the most economic use of those battery types.
  • Higher loads with lead will further reduce available Wh (Peukert’s Law) when compared to Li-ion.
  • Capacity is also reduced for both types by temperatures below their 25°C temperature rating (see their respective datasheets)

Make what you will of the above and whilst you are pondering the pros and cons don’t forget to take these additional factors into account for the comparison above.

  • Shipping: If you are replacing your lead from 2 to 4 times as often as Li-on and the fact that the lead weighs around 3 to 4 times as much (depends on Li-ion chemistry used) – then do consider the extra shipping costs.
  • Voltage stability: The voltage profile is far flatter for Li-ion compared to lead.
  • Voltage sag: Subject to the load, voltage sag with lead is significant compared to Li-ion.
  • Li-ion has much faster charge times and if charging from a generator it saves on generator runtime.

Other factors to consider

Is the above enough to convince you of why Lithium might be a better alternative than AGM or indeed Gel? Personally I’m sold on Lithium, but if you are not here’s a few things further to consider:

  1. A lead-acid battery will fail prematurely due to sulfation if it operates in deficit mode for long periods of time (i.e. if the battery is rarely, or never at all, fully charged). It will also fail early if left partially charged or worse, fully discharged.
  2. By comparison a Lithium-Ion battery does not need to be fully charged. This is a major advantage of Li-ion compared to lead-acid which needs to be fully charged often to prevent sulfation.

  1. Efficiency. In several applications (especially off-grid solar), energy efficiency can be of crucial importance. The round-trip energy efficiency (discharge from 100% to 0% and back to 100% charged) of the average lead-acid battery is 80%.
  2. The round-trip energy efficiency of a Li-ion battery is 92%.

  1. The charge process of lead-acid batteries becomes particularly inefficient when the 80% state of charge has been reached, resulting in efficiencies of 50% or even less in solar systems where several days of reserve energy are required (battery operating in 70% to 100% charged state).
  2. In contrast, a Li-ion battery will still achieve 90% efficiency even under shallow discharge conditions.

Make the switch?

Are you ready to make the switch from Lead to LiFe? If you’ve considered all the above I suspect you might be. And if you need more useable Ah why not run the sums on say a 100Ah Lithium SuperPack vs 220Ah AGM using the process I have above. Or indeed a 200Ah Li-ion SuperPack vs your choice of lead.Lithium SuperPack batteries – an all in one solution

Don’t forget too that Lithium has little or no Peukert effect when compared to Lead types. This is especially important when considering loads with lead-acid higher than 0.05C (Battery Ah divided by 20 or Ah multiplied by 0.05). In other words for a 100Ah AGM with a Peukert of say 1.15 or more and discharging at 0.25C (25 Amps in this case – which is 5 times the 20 hour rate) there will be significant reduction in capacity – as there will be at colder temperatures too. Li-ion has a Peukert of around 1.05 when compared to lead of around 1.15 to 1.25.

So – if you were discharging that 100Ah lead at 5 Amps (the 20 hour discharge rate at a temperature of 25 degrees centigrade) then the full capacity of 100Ah is still availaable and it’s not shrunk due to Peukert. But now if it were 0.25C, it’ll be around 80% of that original 100Ah capacity – or less, subject to load type and duration.Lithium SuperPack batteries – an all in one solution

The bottom line is you no longer have the Ah you purchased, whereas with Lithium there is little to no effect, helped by a lower Peukert and good voltage stability. That is especially important with constant inverter loads – a place where lithium shines. If you want to learn more about Peukert and run a spreadsheet to see such effects, then I have found this link most helpful.

Finally and one I’m always grateful of is vastly reduced charge times, no more waiting for hours of lead absorption charging to get from 80% to 100% SOC. Conversely Li-ion flies up to around 98% SOC in bulk with those last few percent in absorption to fully balance the cells – and unlike lead you don’t always have to fully charge to 100% as often. Note that your 12V charging system needs to accommodate 14.2V – 14.4V ‘absorption’ and ‘13.5V’ float. If charging from an alternator also note the maximum continuous charge currents for the 12.8V range, by checking the datasheet.

Downsides

Not wanting to sound too evangelical, we also need to consider the few downsides of Li-ion.

  • Higher upfront cost and to some extent higher capital risk.
  • Charging is restricted to the +5°C to +45° range, subject to an internal means of blocking the charge source when the temperature is below +5°C. Note this is currently automatically possible with Victron MPPTs when used in conjunction with the Smart Battery Sense for instance. Other products are being worked on to achieve this too and documentation to that effect will be updated in due course.
  • The SuperPack (unlike other Victron Lithiums) is not designed for series connections.
  • The peak and maximum continuous discharge current of the SuperPack range is not as much as some of our Lithium batteries as its related to the BMS and the disconnect being internal to the battery – so do check the datasheet to make sure the current peak and discharge ratings suit your needs – or choose from the Lithium battery 12.8V & 25.6V Smart or the Lithium battery 24V range or build a parallel SuperPack bank.Lithium SuperPack batteries – an all in one solution

Conclusion

Whatever your decision when purchasing new batteries, maybe it is time to give the Lithium SuperPack batteries a chance. There’s LiFe after Lead you know – but as I’ve shown that all depends on what you want to achieve. Is it less weight, less volume, maybe it’s capacity or voltage or any of the multitude of factors that go into choosing a battery system.Lithium SuperPack batteries – an all in one solution

Whatever you choose Victron have plenty of choice – with a large range of battery types and sizes: https://www.victronenergy.com/batteries

John Rushworth


Siemens partners WestPark for industrial park in Takoradi

Siemens has announced it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with WestPark Enterprises to develop an expandable microgrid solution for the fast-growing industrial and business park based in Takoradi, Western Ghana.

The Westpark aims to eliminate many of the challenges faced by companies doing business in Sub-Sahara Africa, such as access to reliable power, water, broadband internet and transport.

 The new industrial park is poised to accelerate the transformation of Takoradi – Ghana’s third-largest city.To lay the foundations for reliable, competitive and efficient energy, WestPark has entered into a partnership with Siemens.

As part of the agreement, Siemens will develop a 250kW microgrid that controls the energy generation for the initial phase of buildings to be constructed at WestPark.

Siemens will design the microgrid so that the first phase of WestPark can be powered entirely by renewable energy and therefore provide a sustainable and cost-effective solution for tenants.

On-site photovoltaic panels will power the microgrid and a back-up battery storage solution will be sourced as well.

The grid can be expanded as more buildings are added with the aim of ensuring that the park remains powered by renewable energy.

According to Sabine Dall’Omo, CEO of Siemens Southern and Eastern Africa, “This project is perfectly in line with Siemens’ vision for future business in Ghana and other African countries. As a company, we are continuously looking for new responsible and efficient energy and infrastructure solutions, and our collaboration with WestPark is a good example of how we can support partners with similar goals.”

Siemens is specifically committed to economic growth across Africa, and in doing so in a forward-thinking manner by implementing environmentally sustainable solutions that will help its partners and customers succeed in today’s environmentally-conscious global market.

Siemens AG is a German conglomerate company headquartered in Berlin and Munich and the largest industrial manufacturing company in Europe with branch offices abroad. The principal divisions of the company are Industry, Energy, Healthcare, and Infrastructure & Cities, which represent the main activities of the company.


The fronius range of inverters are very suitable for grid-tie solar power systems and are currently being deployed all over the country by Nocheski solar

Ghana:Organizations to shift to solar net metering system

Mr Kwabena Otu Danquah, the Head of Renewable Energy Promotion of the Energy Commission, has advised organisations to shift to the solar net metering system to save them from getting into the higher consumption rate bracket.

 

He said net metering was a mechanism that fed the national grid with surplus solar energy from households while assisting them to save cost and urged consumers to take advantage of it.

Mr Danquah was speaking at a two-day solar industry workshop in Accra organised by the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) and the Association of Ghana Solar Industries (AGSI) on current initiatives and opportunities in Ghana’s energy sector.

He said the Energy Commission, in collaboration with the Electricity Company of Ghana, had installed 35 net metering systems in various homes in Accra on a pilot basis.

“We are waiting for the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) for the gazette to ensure that the new solar metering system fully takes off in Ghana,” he said.

Mr Danquah said the Energy Commission had created the enabling environment to ensure the attainment of enough renewable energy targets by 2020.

grid-tie solar power system with battery bank using victron and fronius systems

He said by the provision of the Renewable Energy Act 2011, 832, the Energy Commission, in collaboration with the Ghana Standards Authority, would enforce the law on the importation of renewable energy products that would meet good standards and certification.

He said: “The solar technology we know are perfect but the installation is the problem, hence the need for the Energy Commission to license all electricians and develop a training curriculum to train technicians to ensure good certification of solar.”

Mr Emmanuel Aziebor from the Netherland Development Organisation, a resource person, urged stakeholders in the solar industry to come out with substantive business models to convince the microfinance companies to invest in solar energy.

He advised the technical experts to support and sustain the technology whilst training more technicians on it.

Mr Aziebor said: “We need to have people prepared, trained and exposed to solar energy while looking at the local production of the products in future.”

Mr Eric Omane Acheampong, the President of AGSI, advised the members to develop activities on networking to enable them to assess their progress while sharing knowledge.

Mr James Robinson, the SNV Leader for Energy Sector, Ghana, gave the assurance that the SNV would continue to facilitate the activities of AGSI to sustain and promote solar energy in the country.

SOURCE:ENOCH DARFAH FRIMPONG/GRAPHIC ONLINE


Solar PV Power Paradigm Shift- The Ghana case.I am not that kind of a man, but I have been in the company of other men who in the midst of challenges rather saw them as opportunities to change the paradigm.

I strongly believe that very few energy planners and experts would disagree that Energy Independence for Ghana is an important, even urgent, goal.

But the question remains, is shifting the energy paradigm realistic; and if so, how?

And do our politicians and related institutions have the needed passion and spirit to embrace the new paradigm in our energy sector?

In recent years it has become so glaring that the conventional energy paradigm (fossil fuel tradition) has rapidly lost ground in comparison to the concept of Sustainable Development, as it is based on the intensive use of non-renewable fossil fuels — causing environmental degradation and posing Global Energy Security Risks.

Thus, a modification in our energy paradigm is necessary for our energy independence. A paradigm shift in the goals of energy policy should take place: toward independence, security of supply and climate change. Transition to a sustainable energy system is one of the critical challenges humankind faces in achieving energy independence in the new millennium.

Ghana is a country that has unbelievable solar energy potential; but, sadly, solar energy sources contribute only 0.1% (on-grid+ off-grid) of the total installed capacity for the total installed power capacity of 2104.5 MW in Ghana. (VRA: Facts & Figures).

Some people may say I am overly obsessed with the idea of solar energy for our small but incredibly energy-resource-rich nation.

It’s true – I am! But is it practical for Ghana to actually pursue this objective?

Talking of our potential, Wa — capital of the Upper West Region — has the highest level of solar irradiation (5.524 KWh/m2-day) across the country.

May is the month with the highest solar irradiation (5.897 KWh/m2-day), with August recording the lowest measurement (4.937kWh/m2-day) in Wa.

Akim Oda, conversely, is the location that records the lowest radiation (4.567kWh/m2-day) measurements across the country.

The highest measurement in Akim Oda was recorded in the month of April (5.176kWh/m2-day) and the lowest in August (3.802kWh/m2-day). See Table 1. 

As a nation we are blessed with daily sunshine that averages 5 hours, which ranges between about 7 hours and 4 hours for the northern and southern regions of the nation respectively. Ghana also has annual average daily solar radiation of about 4.5 to 5 KWm2/day. 

Table 1: Summary of Solar irradiation in kWh/m2-day – SWERA Report

Synoptic Station Ground

(kWh/m2-day)

Satellite

(kWh/m2-day)

% Error
Kumasi 4.633 5.155 -11.3
Accra 5.060 5.180 -2.3
Navrongo 5.505 5.765 -4.7
Abetifi 5.150 5.192 -0.8
Akuse 4.814 5.58 -15.9
Wa 5.520 5.729 -3.7
Akim Oda 4.567 5.177 -13.3
Wenchi 5.020 5.093 -1.5
Ho 5.122 5.223 -2.0
Kete Krachi 5.280 5.345 -1.3
Takoradi 5.011 5.200 -3.8
Yendi 5.370 5.632 -4.8
Bole 5.323 5.570 -4.6

 

Anti-islanding made easy: the anti-islanding box The anti-islanding box is a complete pre-wired and easy to install anti-islanding device consisting of a Ziehl anti-islanding relay (model UFR1001E or model SPI1021), the required circuit breakers and a 63A contactor. For specifications of the Ziehl relay

Anti-islanding made easy: the anti-islanding box
The anti-islanding box is a complete pre-wired and easy to install requured by law in certain countries for net meteringinstallations

Assuming we are to use only 23,854km² which is 10% of the total land area (238,585 km²) of Ghana to harness the sun’s energy with PV panels of 15% conversion efficiency, then Ghana would harvest 4,114 TerraWattHours of energy per year. 

This amount is equal to 2.42billion barrels of oil.

Consequently, if we juxtapose this amount with our current oil production in the Jubilee Field, then it is about 27 times the current crude oil production of Ghana per year.” See Chart A on Ghana PV Output.

In Ghana, Solar PV applications are gradually receiving acceptance in most places. However, despite improvements in local Research and Development (R&D) efforts, the body of knowledge on these technologies and their market potentials is considerably inadequate.

Launching major national initiatives on these technologies — such as the President’s 200,000 solar rooftops for households — requires a robust knowledge base and capacity.

In all, PV technologies are showing increasing promise in terms of efficiency improvements and cost. The estimated lifetime of PV modules are 25 years, and this makes them exceptionally attractive for investors.

The victron 500va phoenix offgrid inverter is excellent for small offgrid solar installations.its connectible to both Apple and Android smartphones, tablets, macbooks and other devices (VE.Direct Bluetooth Smart dongle needed)

The victron 500va phoenix offgrid inverter is excellent for small offgrid solar installations.its connectible to both Apple and Android smartphones, tablets, macbooks and other devices (VE.Direct Bluetooth Smart dongle needed)

Today, except for the Solar PV Panels produced in Kpone-Tema by Strategic Power Solutions (SPS) — a subsidiary of Strategic Security Systems International Limited, almost 80% the PV modules on the Ghanaian market are imported.

Solar PV systems can be extensively used for a wide range of electrical energy requirements: including solar home systems, water pumping, refrigeration and telecommunications that will reduce the load curve of electricity demand.

It has been estimated that solar rural electrification is about 30% cheaper than the cost of grid extension to rural communities that are about 18 to 20km from the nearest grid station.

However, there are still economic and institutional obstacles that limit this ability to self-generate power. For instance, while it is practical to install solar panels on a home, it is more difficult to scale-up these systems for commercial and industrial-sized projects. Scale is a critical issue in energy generation, as with scale comes lower project costs and greater efficiency.

For privately distributed generation projects, both small and large, to make greater contributions toward our national energy independence, there needs to be continued evolution of the bold policies that first introduced grid-connection rights and net metering in our renewable energy act.

The government must as a matter of urgency assist all consumers anywhere in the country to benefit from the net-metering incentive for solar power consumers. Again, due to the high upfront cost, government must establish a renewable energy revolving credit fund whereby solar consumers can borrow money to finance solar systems without making large up-front payments and without paying high interest rates to banks or private financiers.

Also, the PURC must establish a coherent pricing tariff for distributors to buy power from private solar-farm developers. This could unlock an untapped source of clean, reliable, economical power for Ghana.

While not easy to accomplish, these advances are achievable – and, importantly, they don’t need to cost the tax payers any money. However, they depend on the political will and leadership of our energy-sector authorities.

This an original story by Maxmillian Kwarteng and has been featured on BFT online


Apparently the economics for backup power alone just aren’t that attractive.

Tesla has quietly removed all references to its 10-kilowatt-hour residential battery from the Powerwall website, as well as the company’s press kit. The company’s smaller battery designed for daily cycling is all that remains.

The change was initially made without explanation, which prompted industry insiders to speculate. Today, a Tesla representative confirmed the 10-kilowatt-hour option has been discontinued.

“We have seen enormous interest in the Daily Powerwall worldwide,” according to an emailed statement to GTM. “The Daily Powerwall supports daily use applications like solar self-consumption plus backup power applications, and can offer backup simply by modifying the way it is installed in a home. Due to the interest, we have decided to focus entirely on building and deploying the 7-kilowatt-hour Daily Powerwall at this time.”

The 10-kilowatt-hour option was marketed as a backup power supply capable of 500 cycles, at a price to installers of $3,500. Tesla was angling to sell the battery to consumers that want peace of mind in the event the grid goes down, like during another Superstorm Sandy. The problem is that the economics for a lithium-ion backup battery just aren’t that attractive.

Even at Tesla’s low wholesale price, a 500-cycle battery just doesn’t pencil out against the alternatives, especially once the inverter and other system costs are included. State-of-the-art backup generators from companies like Generac and Cummins sell for $5,000 or less. These companies also offer financing, which removes any advantage Tesla might claim with that tactic, as GTM’s Jeff St. John pointed out last spring.

“Even some of the deep cycling lead acid batteries offer 1,000 cycles and cost less than half of the $3,500 price tag for Tesla Powerwall,” said Ravi Manghani, senior energy storage analyst at GTM Research. “For pure backup applications only providing 500 cycles, lead acid batteries or gensets are way more economical.”In Ghana  good  quality lead acid batteries such as the AGM telecom batteries retail at $219/Kw/hr and can be purchased at nocheski Solar (Victron Energy partner ) in the port city of  Tema. These AGM batteries have 1800 cycles at a D.O.D of 30% or 750 cycles at a D.O.D of 50%

 AGM telecom battery by victron energy

AGM telecom battery by victron energy

In California, batteries can benefit from the state’s Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP). But California regulators have indicated that battery systems need to be able to cycle five times a week in order to be eligible, which would exclude Tesla’s bigger battery.

“In current discussions on SGIP program overhaul, it is very likely that stronger performance requirements may get added, which will make a 10-kilowatt-hour/500 cycles product outright ineligible (if cycled only once a week), or last only 2 years (if cycled every weekday for about 500 cycles over 2 years),” said Manghani. “In short, the market’s expectation is that for a $3,500 price tag, the product needs to have more than just 500 cycles (i.e., only backup capabilities).”

Backup power alone simply doesn’t have as strong a case as using a battery for self-consumption. That said, the opportunities for self-consumption are still few and far between.

A GTM Research analysis for residential storage, purely for time-of-use shifting or self-consumption. found that the economics only pan out in certain conditions. In Hawaii, for instance, the economics of solar-plus-storage under the state’s new self supply tariff looks only slightly more attractive than solar alone under the grid supply option.

“So it comes down to the question of customer adoption of a relatively new technology for only slightly improved economics,” said Manghani. “This doesn’t mean residential customers are not deploying energy storage,” but he noted that these were the early adopters.

Tesla appears to be focusing its efforts on first movers and the markets where storage for energy arbitrage and self-consumption makes economic sense.

While the 10-kilowatt-hour option has been removed, the Powerwall website continues to offer specifications for Tesla’s 6.4-kilowatt-hour battery designed for daily cycling applications, such as load shifting. The battery is warrantied for 10 years, or roughly 5,000 cycles, with a 100 percent depth of discharge. The wholesale price to installers is $3,000.

The smaller battery is often marketed as 7 kilowatt-hours, which would appear to have a price of $429 per kilowatt-hour. In realty, it’s a 6.4 kilowatt-hour battery at a price of $469 per kilowatt-hour.

A bigger, cheaper or more integrated battery product could soon be added to Tesla’s lineup. In January, CEO Elon Musk announced a new Powerwall option will be released this summer.

“We’ve got the Tesla Powerwall and Powerpack, which we have a lot of trials underway right now around the world. We’ve seen very good results,” said Musk during a talk to Tesla car owners in Paris, The Verge reports. “We’ll be coming out with version two of the Powerwall probably around July, August this year, which will see [a] further step-change in capabilities.”

At this point, it’s unclear what the “step-change” will be.

 

 


 

Bill Gates once again shunned solar power from his vision for energy access in Africa in his talk at the University of Pretoria in South Africa on Sunday, where he argued that whilst “cheap, clean energy” is what Africa needs, solar does not fit the bill.

During the delivery of his Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, the Microsoft founder and philanthropist identified that Africa, like the rest of the world, is in need of a “breakthrough energy miracle that provides cheap, clean energy for everyone.”

Africa is more dependent on such a phenomenon than other continents, because seven in ten Africans still lack power at present, while more than 500 million Africans still will not have electricity by 2040.

This is not the first time Gates has taken a less than welcoming stance to solar power. In February, during an interview with a news outlet, he echoed a similar thought. “When I say ‘an energy miracle’,” he said, “I mean that there will be some form of energy whose 24-hour cost really is competitive with hydrocarbons given, say, 20 years of learning curve.

“You invent it, then you look at how much its costs go down over the next 20 years, that it really beats hydrocarbons.

“You might say, well, aren’t people saying that about wind and solar today? Not really. Only in the super-narrow sense that the capital costs per output, when the wind is blowing, is slightly lower.”

In fact, Gates has been advocating anti-solar sentiment for a while. In 2014, he blogged about energy poverty, arguing for outdated fossil fuel solutions to tackle the electricity deficit in underdeveloped economies, characterising energy poverty as a climate issue.

Solar is ‘not enough’

In the speech on Sunday, the software entrepreneur recommended increased investment in renewables, namely hydropower and geothermal. He went on to argue that recently launched solar power initiatives have not been enough:

“There has been a lot of experimentation with small-scale renewable energy, including micro solar,” he said. “This approach can provide individuals with some electricity for basic purposes, but it’s not going to be the solution for the continent as a whole.”

PV Tech contacted the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA), who vehemently disagreed with Gates’ sentiments.

“To downplay the role that solar photovoltaics (PV) can play as part of a unique African energy mix in the strive to alleviate Africa’s energy constraints would be irresponsible,” a spokesperson said, whilst citing data that should deem solar a ‘no brainer’ solution for Africa: “Africa has 7 of the 10 sunniest countries on earth and, according to IHS Technology, a US-based economic and energy market research company, Africa’s total solar power–generating capacity is projected to reach 3,380MW by 2017.”

bill-gates-quote

Solar deployment in Africa

In fact, solar power is undergoing rapid deployment and implementation as many countries across the continent are battling energy crises and look to alternatives to expensive fossil fuels such as diesel and coal. A series of feed-in tariffs and solar tenders have offered a foray into a solution that not only is clean and inexpensive, but is easily accessible.

In South Africa in particular, the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) has successfully awarded 965MW of new solar capacity, which SAPVIA points out “is being delivered on time and on budget”.

“The rapidly escalating uptake of the technology in the rest of Africa can be clearly seen,” argued SAPVIA. “Expedited solar PV roll-out is being seen as supportive policies and regulations, such as the Get FIT Programme are developed and implemented. These policies and programmes, combined with the drop in the cost of PV technology (currently fully off-grid solar-PV technologiesdeployed at site can be deployed for as little as US$ 0.15/kWh and they do not require additional expensive transmission networks to move the electricity around), [we] see solar PV will make a significant impact on Africa and its energy challenges.

“One can expect – as has happened in South Africa – as the necessary supportive policies and regulations are scaled up, the rest of Africa will experience an increased uptake of solar PVtechnology. New renewable energy markets in Africa are already showing greater appeal to international and local investors – further spurring the uptake of solar PV in African markets.”


Salima Visram is the 23-year-old entrepreneur behind the Soular, a backpack company equipped with solar panels, which allow children who don’t have access to electricity in rural parts of Africa to study at night without having to use an expensive and carcinogenic kerosene lamp. Soular will be launching a new one-for-one model today, through the sale of trendy backpacks on HSN in collaboration with Disney, alongside their new movie, Queen of Katwe, which is set in rural Uganda, where the kerosene lamp is central to the plot of the story.

“I was inspired to launch Soular after seeing how some children in Kenya, where I grew up, were not able to study every day and get into secondary school, which perpetuated the vicious cycle of poverty,” Visram said.

these school children seem very excited about their solular backpacks

these school children seem very excited about their solular backpacks

Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, who stars in Disney’s Queen of Katwe, is a supporter of Soular Backpack. Nyong’o and Disney went with the Soular team to Katwe in Uganda to distribute backpacks there in July.  Soular will also be showcased at the premiere of the movie in Hollywood later this September.

“On every Soular Backpack, there’s a quote from Lupita that reads, ‘The Power Is In Your Step,’” Visram said. watch the video here

Visram launched Soular by starting a crowdfunding campaign, which exceeded its goal by 25% raising $50,000. Soular has since distributed hundreds of backpacks across Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

“So far, we’ve distributed backpacks to 500 children but we’ve realized that with one backpack in the family, on average 3 children are able to study with it,” Visram said.

Soular’s new one-for-one backpack

Soular’s new one-for-one backpack

Visram has big plans for Soular.

“The next phase of Soular would be to scale the one-for-one model across North America in a big way and make sure that everyone who needs a backpack is aware that they could buy a backpack that gifts light to a child in need,” Visram said. “We’re excited to position ourselves as a leading backpack company that stands to create social impact.”

Soul’s new one-for-one backpack is for sale on HSN for $49.95 in two colors, navy and white

Visram stays committed to making Soular a company that finds sustainable solutions to poverty.

Salima Visram, founder of Soular, with the new backpack for sale on HSN

Salima Visram, founder of Soular, with the new backpack for sale on HSN

“My vision for Soular is to make a holistic system of interventions and services that give people the tool to alleviate themselves from poverty,” Visram said. “We want to partner with a bank, so that the money saved on kerosene every month goes into a secondary education fund for the child. We want to set up micro-franchises in rural villages to sell lamps and batteries, in order to generate employment. We’ve just moved production to Kenya, which is creating more employment and impact within the region. Realizing how electricity is at the center of education, health and economic development is also something that inspired me to start it.”

 


100 MW Ghana Solar Farm Gets Funding

Home Energy Africa, which specializes in the development and sales of renewable energy products for businesses, governments, and residential homes in Africa, has obtained a $705,000 grant from the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) for the development of a solar PV power generation project in Ghana.

Projected to begin construction in 2017, ESI Africa reports that this solar project will generate 100 MW of power, providing electricity to approximately 80,000 average homes in the country.

The agreement between the two countries was signed by Robert P. Jackson, the US Ambassador to Ghana, and Charles Sena Kwadzo Ayenu, CEO of Home Energy Africa.

“Lack of power is a challenge we see across sub-Saharan Africa. Two out of three people in this region lack access to electricity. That hinders business, and it hinders prosperity. We’ve made increasing access to power one of the top priorities for our bilateral relationship. Today’s grant is just one more way we’re bringing together government and the private sector to make Ghana’s future brighter,” said Jackson.

Boosting the Supply of Electricity

“One of Ghana’s paramount constraints to sustainable economic growth is the country’s inadequate electric power supply. This grant will support us in bringing our solar power PV project to financial close in order to fill the gap in power supply, meet Ghana’s goals for clean and sustainable energy, help create over 200 jobs to local communities and provide electricity to at least 80,000 average homes in Ghana,” said Mr. Ayenu.

Ayenu stated Ghana presently has 2,450 MW of installed capacity, adding: “The government of Ghana aspires to double that capacity to 5,000 MW this year, including 10% from renewable sources.”

The USTDA grant targets providing technical assistance to Home Energy Africa by using GreenMax Capital Advisors, an American firm, in finalizing the legal and financial details necessary to implement the project. Project assistance includes preparation for power purchase agreement negotiations with the Electricity Company of Ghana, services contracts, and financial arrangements.

Ayenu said the signing of the grant was the last barrier that the company has had to cross for work to begin on the project. He added that the firm has also acquired a 30% equity funding agreement for the $150 million project.

Originally published on Planetsave.


German automaker BMW has unveiled its new solar carports in South Africa, which it will begin rolling out in July.

The BMW i solar carport supplies an average of 3.6 kW of solar power straight to the BMW i Wallbox, which is used to charge electric and plug-in hybrid BMW models and which is equipped with a live readout of how much power is being generated by the sun.

Tim Abbott, CEO of BMW Group South Africa and Sub-Sahara, said the company was the first automaker to offer such a broad-based EV smart charging product to reduce costs for customers. The rollout is part of the company’s global efforts to expand home and publicly accessible charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, Abbott added.

In the coming months, BMW Group South Africa will expand the installation of the solar carport in major cities, including Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, for public charging.

Customers and fleet companies will also be able to order the solar carport for home and office charging.

“We have always emphasized that in order for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to be successful, we need to firstly increase consumer confidence in the viability of electric vehicles and secondly make public charging easily accessible for customers who purchase these cars,” Abbott said. “The roll-out of the solar carport is also an emphasis on this philosophy.”

The solar carport is produced by PV solar system designer and installer Sunworks. It is made of high-end bamboo and stainless steel housing for the glass solar modules.

Bamboo is considered a particularly sustainable and high strength-to-weight ratio natural composite material useful for structures, BMW said.

watch video [youtube id=”QSXsyFsDVec”]

sources:PV magazine, BMW blog