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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R030243/1
Title: Creating Resilient Sustainable Microgrids through Hybrid Renewable Energy Systems
Principal Investigator: Lovett, Professor J
Other Investigators:
Jones, Professor JM Dupont, Dr V Ross, Dr AB
Aristidou, Dr P Schiffer, Dr J Crook, Dr R
Li, Professor K Taylor, Professor P LI, Dr H
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Defiant Energy Pvt Ltd SIRIM Berhad
Department: Sch of Geography
Organisation: University of Leeds
Scheme: GCRF (EPSRC)
Starts: 01 May 2018 Ends: 30 April 2021 Value (£): 1,259,750
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Sustainable Energy Networks
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Energy
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
07 Feb 2018 GCRF 3 - Energy Networks Call Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Universal access to affordable modern clean energy is goal 7 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs state that "Energy is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today. Be it for jobs, security, climate change, food production or increasing incomes, access to energy for all is essential." In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 625 million people have no access to modern energy services. Most African countries - 42 in all - are net energy importers and fossil-fuel-fired plants account for 81% of total electricity generation, which is mostly in South Africa. Most large infrastructure projects are public investments financed by national budgets. The estimated cost of bringing Africa's energy infrastructure to modern standard is 93 billion USD/ year. There is a huge gap between energy supply and demand in Africa, and other developing countries, that successive efforts have failed to bridge. The envisioned holistic hybrid MGs will lead to a prototype model for the creation of sustainable and resilient distribution networks for off-grid locations. This approach has the potential to enable electrification of millions of households. Both Tanzania and Uganda are low income 'least developed' countries with a high level of rural poverty and very limited grid connectivity. The Republic of Congo is classed as a lower middle income country due to its mineral wealth, but has low grid connectivity away from cities and its research sector suffers from under-investment in research capacity building

This proposal focuses on energy distribution in off-grid communities with a population of around 4000 inhabitants, a size that has been recommended by our African project partners as being the practical optimum for implementation. The research has an integrated approach to ensure that the design of the system is maintainable, has good longevity with low cost, meets diverse community energy needs and is resilient to natural hazards. The overall goal is to enable the development of sustainable and resilient energy distribution grids in rural communities of the low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) Tanzania, Uganda and Republic of the Congo, where currently at most 10% of the rural population has access to electricity. We will achieve this by designing a scalable low-cost MG infrastructure based on a novel planning methodology that incorporates real-time operational strategies and sustainable generation flexibility at the system design stage to reduce the investment requirements and increase sustainability. The MG paradigm will ensure that the research outcomes are also applicable to communities with sporadic grid connections. Building on the existing partnership platform created by the PI's five year £1.2M Royal Society renewable energy capacity building project, the present grant will enable us to realise and experimentally validate a unique, integrated, design platform that incorporates electrical network requirements with hybrid renewable energy generation sources as well as socio-economic and local community-driven considerations. This holistic approach is driven by the understanding that the creation of a truly sustainable, reliable, and locally maintainable energy distribution infrastructure needs to be focused on actual needs and local realities, beyond a purely electrical perspective. This will provide innovative distribution system configurations targeted at supporting the scalable and self-sustainable electrification of rural communities in our three partner countries. An advisory panel drawn from partners of our EPSRC Pump Priming for Global Challenge Research project will ensure that the results are also applicable to LMICs globally.

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