Village Power Hybrid Systems Development in the United States

    Research output: NRELTechnical Report


    The energy demand in developing countries is growing at a rate seven times that of the OECD countries, even though there are still 2 billion people living in developing countries without electricity; most of these people live in remote villages, far from the established grid. Line extension is generally uneconomical; and diesel gensets are expensive to operate and maintain, and have proven to notbe environmentally and economically sustainable for remote applications. Renewable energy technologies offer an economical and environmentally sustainable solution for bringing power- and its educational, economic development, health, and quality of life benefits- to remote villages. Many developing countries have social and economic development programs aimed at stemming the massive migrationfrom the rural communities to the overcrowded, environmentally problematic, unemployment-bound urban centers. It has been estimated that $1 invested in rural communities potentially offsets $6 required to provide support service and mitigate impacts on an urban setting. To address the issue of providing social, educational, health, and economic benefits to the rural communities of the developingworld, a number of government and non-government agencies are sponsoring pilot programs to install and evaluate renewable energy systems as alternatives to line extension, diesels, kerosene, and batteries. These programs are underway in Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, Bolivia, Guatemala, Mauritania, the Caribbean, the Philippines, and India. These programs are aimed at generating the experience andperformance data required to develop large loan requests to the financial community for multiple village-power applications. Several of these loan requests are on the order of $100 million. An official of the World Bank's Environmentally Sustainable Development Department recently stated that the World Bank and multilateral institutions should strive to incorporate renewable energy options intoongoing and pending projects in the developing world. The use of renewables in remote international villages has yielded mixed results over the last 20 year. However, recently, photovoltaics, small wind turbines, and microhydro systems have gained increasing recognition as reliable, cost-effective alternatives to grid extension and diesel gensets for village-electricity applications. At the sametime, hybrid systems based on combination of PV/wind/batteries/diesel gensets have proven reliable and economic for remote international telecommunications markets. With the growing emphasis on environmentally and economically sustainable development of international rural communities, the U.S. hybrid industry is responding with the development and demonstration of hybrid systems andarchitectures that will directly compete with conventional alternatives for village electrification. Assisting the US industry in this development, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has embarked on a program of collaborative technology development and technical assistance in the area of hybrid systems for village power. Following a brief review of village-power hybrid systemsapplication and design issues, this paper will present the present industry development activities of three U.S. suppliers and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
    Original languageAmerican English
    Number of pages7
    StatePublished - 1994

    NREL Publication Number

    • NREL/TP-442-7227


    • international villages
    • off-grid applications
    • photovoltaics (PV)
    • rural communitites
    • small wind
    • World Bank


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