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Analysis of the cost of reliable electricity: A new method for analyzing grid connected solar, diesel and hybrid distributed electricity systems considering an unreliable electric grid, with examples in Uganda

Publication date: Available online 7 February 2014
Author(s): Patrick Mark Murphy , Ssennoga Twaha , Inês S. Murphy
More than 1.3 billion people lack access to grid electricity. Uganda provides a typical example of an under-electrified country, with less than 12% of Ugandans having access. To address the lack of electricity access, there has been much analysis devoted to grid-connected distributed generation. What these analyses lack is a consideration that even where grid electricity reaches people, it is not always reliable; customers often experience hundreds of outage hours per month. This paper addresses this analytical shortfall to provide new methods to analyze reliable electricity and identify optimal systems to provide more reliable electricity. We adapt the HOMER (Hybrid Optimization Model for Electric Renewables) in this work to address unreliable electricity from the grid, and develop a method for determining optimal system configurations and predicting electricity costs for reliable power generation in regions with unreliable grid electricity. We demonstrate the method for a village in Uganda, but the method holds universally. Results indicate that diesel is the most economical choice, but slight increases in diesel and decreases in PV (photovoltaics) prices make solar/diesel hybrid systems competitive. Improved reliability increases cost, but the increase of can be justified for users needing more reliability.

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