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Mobile Hybrid Power System to Empower Rural Masses

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People living off grid live precariously because of gas lamps
People living off grid live precariously because of gas lamps

Can you imagine a day without cable TV, or without air-conditioning, or maybe without the convenience of an electrical outlet, or even light on demand? For 1.3 billion people around the globe they need not imagine, this is their everyday reality because they live far from a power grid. The irony is that some of them have access to modern tools like a cellular phone or a computer, it’s just that they’re only able to plug them in for four hours a day, and that they have to pay exorbitant prices for their electric power, up to $1.25/kWh.

This scenario comes about because they need electricity to learn and to earn. In most cases, they have to rely on diesel powered generators to provide power. They even have to ship in the fuel from the mainland, and when there is a storm they just have to wait it out by candlelight. This obviously takes away from their ability to react in times of emergency like that. On the other hand, in “normal” situations, their livelihood, their children’s education and  their quality of life is obviously affected. Sometimes, it’s downright dangerous because sometimes the generating set is turned off and people need to use candles or gas lamps for light – and forget to blow them out.

In order to help these marginalized people, Ideal Power and EnerDel teamed up to develop the Mobile Hybrid Power System (MHPS). The system has a hybrid converter, lithium-ion batteries teamed up with a diesel generator that will drastically reduce the fuel consumption. The 30KW version of the hybrid converter has DC and AC ports as well as energy storage that is provided by Ideal Power, the ports allow the system to draw power from a PV array. This will be paired with Enerdel’s lithium-ion battery bank and proprietary control system. The result is a system with diesel fuel consumption savings of at least 70%.

Independently, the systems these companies have produced have already proven themselves in the field. Ideal Power’s 30-kW hybrid converter has won innovation awards in recognition of its efficiency and its portability. EnerDel, on the other hand, worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to create earlier MHPS’s that have already saved 70 percent in diesel fuel use. By working together, the companies expect to improve operational efficiencies, as well as economics. The new product will be released later this year and the first years installed by 2015. The new system is expected to have a 2 year payback period while reducing the cost of electricity generated.

Not only that, by combining solar power with a diesel generating set, the users have more flexibility and are no longer dependent on diesel fuel deliveries for electricity. In addition, they need no longer be held hostage to ever increasing prices of oil because they can choose to soak up more sun in their energy mix. This system will not only help them cope with emergencies like storms and other natural calamities, it can also empower marginalized people like them.

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