Villages and towns that are far from the utility grid can have their electricity needs met by autonomous micro-grids which can integrate wind, solar, diesel, and other energy sources to create a robust and reliable local grid. For customers, this source of energy operates just as if they were connected to the national utility: they pay a monthly fee based on their consumption. Innovative technology is emerging that allows for the micro-grid to be controlled by mobile-enabled meters. These meters allow customers to pay for energy via mobile-money platforms, receive statistics on their consumption and energy credit remaining on their mobile devices, and for developers to remotely monitor the real-time performance and usage of the power system. When structured correctly, micro-grid projects can present a sustainable model for community electrification, with operating and maintenance costs covered by revenue from the metered customers. The micro-grids also offer an attractive return on investment for the operator of the system.
PowerGen’s third Kiva funded micro-grid is also in the Maasai Mara. Nkoilale is a commercial center with various businesses catering to both locals and visitors passing through. The 1.4 kW micro-grid installed in May 2014 allows the business owners to better serve their customers while reducing their energy expenses.
Ololailumtia Village, Kenya
This village on the edge of the Maasai Mara has two PowerGen micro-grids providing electricity to different portions of the town thanks to Kiva and its lenders. The micro-grids bring power for lighting, TV, refrigeration, a medical clinic and other uses of power to over 100 beneficiaries. The first was installed in March and the second in April of 2014. The March grid was the first ever micro-grid loan for PowerGen and Kiva and we are excited to build on the partnership to bring more renewable energy solutions to villages like Ololailumtia across Kenya.
Takawiri Island, Kenya
This micro-grid in eastern Lake Victoria served 15 customers with a 705W AC grid when it was initially installed in December 2013. Since then, we have expanded the grid to reach 31 customers with a total of 1410W. We installed this grid with our partner, access:energy.
Mageta Island, Kenya
The micro-grid on Mageta Island is the smallest of our three Lake Victoria grids with our partner, access:energy. Installed in December 2013, it is 360W and connects to seven customers.
Sinda Village, Zambia
The Zambian micro-grid was installed in July 2013 and is currently bringing power to approximately 35 individuals in the Eastern Province town of Sinda. This project was completed with PowerGen’s partner in Zambia, Zamsolar. The micro-grid features metering technology from an American partner, Lumeter.
Remba Island, Kenya
Along with our partner, access:energy, a micro-grid was installed in September 2013 on Remba Island in Lake Victoria. The island, known as “Slum Island,” is only a few hundred meters long, yet houses thousands of individuals who rely on generators, batteries, and kerosene as their only sources of power. The micro-grid has over 2 kW of solar and 1 kW of wind power that will provide electricity to hundreds on the island.
Check out more on PowerGen’s micro-grid projects!