Planning the grid integration of minigrids in developing countries

  • Madalitso CHIKUMBANJE

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


In the two decades since 2000, the world electricity access rate has improved from 73%to 90%, through grid extension and off-grid solutions, like minigrids and solar homesystems. Beyond electricity access, the integration of main grids and minigrids, is aprospect for addressing some challenges associated with current electricity accessinitiatives, such as network losses and poor supply voltages. The grid integration ofminigrids is comparable to the integration of low carbon distributed energy resources(DERs) in the global north grids, whose success has been ensured by developingappropriate planning methods for maximising benefits. However, no suitable planningmethodology is available to maximise the benefits of grid integration of formerlyautonomous minigrids in developing countries.This thesis proposes a minigrid integration planning (MGIP) method that minimisesactive and reactive power losses and improves voltage profile. It builds on the availableacademic work on distribution network planning and DER integration by including asignificantly ‘better’ articulation of the performance of downstream minigrids within theassociated optimisation problem.The thesis also proposes a pre-assessment procedure for characterising the application ofMGIP to a specific set of minigrid integrations. The procedure pre-qualifies minigridsand classifies the expected ‘value’ of MGIP to improve system parameters (e.g., losses,voltage profile). Minigrids with limited benefits are removed from the global optimisationproblem to provide a resultant saving in computational effort.Case studies akin to sub-Saharan Africa grid applications are developed and considered.Results show that applying the MGIP can reduce losses by up to 76% and significantlyimprove voltage profiles. Additionally, the pre-assessment procedure offers regularcomputational savings and improves decision-making when applying the MGIP. Thework presented in this thesis contributes to the technical aspects of planning the gridintegration of formerly autonomous minigrids initially deployed to widen electricityaccess in developing countries.
Date of Award9 Jul 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsUniversity of Strathclyde
SupervisorStuart Galloway (Supervisor) & Damien Frame (Supervisor)

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