Organically Grown Microgrids: the Development and Simulation of a Solar Home System-based Microgrid
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The United Nations has declared 2012 the ``International Year of Sustainable Energy for All''. A substantial portion of the world's population (some 1.3 billion people) currently live without electricity and development efforts to reach them are progressing relatively slowly. This thesis follows the development of a technology which can enable community owned and operated microgrids to emerge based solely on the local supply and demand of that community. Although this thesis ends with the technical analysis of a DC/DC converter, there is a significant amount of background to cover in order to properly understand the context in which it will be used. After providing an introduction into typical rural electrification efforts and pointing out some of the shortcomings of these projects, this thesis introduces some cutting edge efforts which combine solar home system technology with cellular technology and discusses the benefits of such a marriage of technology. Next, the research proposes some tweaks to this novel technology and provides a high-level economic demonstration of the spread of solar home systems in a community based on these modifications. It then takes this concept even further and proposes the addition of a DC/DC converter which could turn these individual solar home systems into a proper microgrid. This thesis elaborates on the development process of simulating such a microgrid in PSCAD, including the individual components of a solar home system and the specific task of designing the converter which would form the backbone of the proposed microgrid. The final simulations and analyses demonstrate a microgrid that is both technically and economically feasible for developing world applications.