Project's aim

This project seeks to develop an open source load management system for community-based renewable energy systems.

Location

Phillipines, Malaysian Borneo

Partners involved

Green Empowerment
greenempowerment.org SIBAT, TONIBUNG

Open Source Initiative: Smart Grids for Small Grids

Co-ordinated by Green Empowerment, this project seeks to develop an open source load management system for community-based renewable energy systems. The main objective is to distribute the demand for energy more evenly throughout the day to reduce the risk of overloading the mini-grid’s capacities during peak hours. Additionally, these low-cost devices will be accessible to a network of developers working for the benefit of marginalised, indigenous communities, with local sector practitioners manufacturing and installing the technology.

Off-grid systems commonly experience power deficits during peak consumer hours and significant power excesses during off-peak hours. This is typical in micro-hydro power (MHP) systems, where excess power generated is diverted to a ballast or dump load and system overload during peak hours can lead to service interruptions.The usual way to avoid these issues is to use Electronic Load Controllers (ELCs) which let the turbine run at constant power output and divert excess power to artificial loads (called a “ballast”). In collaboration with other micro-hydro practitioners, Green Empowerment developed an open source and modular ELC and the current project is a further step in improving the operation of micro-hydro mini-grids.

By collecting information about the actual power demand and then automatically optimising the use of the available power via a variety of load management strategies (including, but not limited to, secondary load enabling/disabling and appliance queuing), the project aims to meet the following targets:

  • To establish a communication link between the point of power generation and consumption.
  • To develop a strategy/algorithm to manage consumer demand and the hardware to implement it.
  • Socialize the technology among communities using the tool, while incorporating “failsafe” protocols at community level while the technology is still in its developmental stage.
  • To develop open-source materials to reproduce the technology in local practitioner contexts.

The project relies on key regional partners working in cooperation with Green Empowerment: Tonibung in Malaysian Borneo; Sibat in the Philippines; and, of course, the communities that have volunteered to be a part of this project (the villages of Buayan and Tiku in Malaysia, and Barangay Balbalasang in the Philippines).