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Renewable Microgrids Improving Lives in Developing Countries


Renewable microgrids, small-scale power systems with their own renewable energy resources, allow electrification to communities that are less likely be connected to central grids.

The village of Entesopia in Kenya is a good example of a community supplied by an 8.5-kilowatt modular solar microgrid, which is owned and managed by Vulcan Philanthropy and SteamCo, respectively. The microgrid provides electricity to more than 60 houses and companies.

Its flexibility, resiliency, and fast supply make the renewable microgrid industry suitable for developing countries, who need to catch up on urbanization.

In order to realize that vision, the microgrid must have the appropriate capacity, avoiding higher costs per unit, and thus, earning profits for the community.

This can be achieved through building heavy power users – telecom tower, maize mills, welding shops, to name a few. Designing microgrids based on the sizes and types of village houses through automated algorithms would also optimize the community’s economic growth.

Initially, this concept of empowering and supporting remote communities is pushed by NGO’s and other development organizations; but with its current expansion, private companies such as SteamCo, now progressively drive the advocacy.

As Emily Moder, Chief Operating Officer at SteamaCo, puts it, “Light from roof systems can improve quality of life, but only microgrids can lift people out of poverty. By allowing people to build businesses and another source of income, they improve the resilience of rural communities against drought or climate change.”

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