Juwi trials ‘battery-less’ PV-diesel hybrid system in Kenya

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German PV developer juwi has installed a new ‘intelligent’ control system in a village in Kenya designed to integrate PV and diesel generation without the need for storage.

The company’s off-grid division has developed the Solar Fuel Saver, a system it hopes will be widely adopted elsewhere in Africa as parts of the continent that rely on diesel generators look for less expensive sources of power.

The installation of the system on Mfangano island, in the eastern part of Lake Victoria, couples a PV plant with an existing diesel generator, allowing the solar system to inject power into the mini-grid during the day.

Juwi claims it is the first hybrid diesel-PV system not requiring storage and is therefore 60% cheaper than battery-operated off-grid systems.

Fabian Jochem, head of juwi’s off-grid division, said: “The idea behind our concept is to reduce the generators’ fuel consumption during daytime hours by injecting as much electricity as possible from the solar plant into the grid without harming the diesel generator. The power output of the photovoltaic plant is therefore controlled by an intelligent controller, the Solar Fuel Saver.”

Juwi said the system, developed with Kenya-based Dreampower and the Kenya Power and Lighting Company, can take up to 25% of the average load during the middle of the day, around 40kW.

If the load decreases, the PV plant’s power output will be adjusted automatically in order to avoid the diesel generator operating under minimal part load conditions.

The company said the system had “great potential” elsewhere in Africa as the cost of diesel rises and demand for power increases.

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