Micro-grids supplied by renewable energy : Improving technical and social feasibility

Sammanfattning: Universal access to electricity stands high on the global agenda and is regarded as essential for positive development in sectors such as health care, education, poverty reduction, food production and climate change. Decentralized, off-grid electrification is deemed an important complement to centralized grid extension. By utilizing a renewable energy source, solar technology for the generation of electricity, photovoltaics (PV) is being considered as a way forward to minimize the environmental problems related to energy use.This thesis aims to contribute to improving the technical and social feasibility of PV and PV-diesel hybrid micro-grids for the purpose of providing access to electricity to people in rural areas of countries with low level access to electricity. In line with these general aims, the focus has been to address three questions related to challenges in three phases of rural electrification. The work has a multi-disciplinary approach, addressing mainly technical and social aspects of long-term sustainability of micro-grids, in a local context, and the changes these are intended to generate. One specific micro-grid in Tanzania has been used as a major case study.The thesis is developed through three papers, all presenting methodologies or aspects for investigation in rural electrification projects and studies in general, and for PV-diesel hybrid micro-grids in particular. Paper I puts forward a methodology to facilitate non-social scientific researchers to take social aspects increasingly into consideration. Paper II is a guideline to support system users to increasingly apply an evaluation based system operation. Paper III specifically highlights the importance to consider blackouts when investigating how an existing off-grid PV-diesel hybrid system shall be utilized when a national grid becomes available.