A microgrid solution is to be developed by Schneider Electric and DONG Energy aimed at enabling more sustainable energy supply on the remote islands off the mainland of Africa.

The solution will combine DONG Energy’s virtual power plant system, Power Hub, with Schneider Electric’s distribution grid field devices and management systems to offer real time generation and demand forecasting, monitoring and control of island energy systems with increased renewable energy.

Many islands are heavily diesel-dependent, incurring high electricity costs and subject to fluctuating fuel prices. Consequently island utility operators are looking to renewable generation to reduce costs and reach renewable targets. However the main challenge of integrating intermittent renewable energies is the ensuing complexity of balancing the grid and maintaining reliability and stability.

“(Power Hub) has already successfully demonstrated its capability and value in optimizing, balancing and improving the stability of remote microgrids at the Faroe Islands,” said Evert den Boer, senior vice president in DONG Energy. “Integrating Power Hub with Schneider Electric’s power and grid management software platform will enable us to deliver a unique solution that addresses an important challenge of how to run an isolated electricity system in a safe, economically optimal manner, while making maximum use of renewables.”

“Alongside DONG Energy, Schneider Electric will bring its expertise in grid field devices, network automation and grid management systems in a uniquely modular approach to virtual power plants in order to overcome the operational challenges of dynamically balancing supply and demand,” added Frédéric Abbal, executive vice president of  Schneider Electric’s Energy Division. “Our joint architecture includes advanced distribution management system, power control system and renewable control center applications. Thanks to weather and load forecasting and fast load shedding capabilities, island utility operators will be able to operate sustainable, efficient and economically viable power systems and benefit local communities.”

There are 52 small island developing states (SIDS) around the world, of which six are in Africa – Cape Verde, Comoros, Guinea Bissau, Mauritius, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Seychelles. These countries range in size from the smallest, Seychelles, which is composed of 115 small islands representing the largest number among African SIDS, to the largest, Guinea Bissau, which comprises close to 80 islands. In all, African has at least 300 remote islands distanced from mainland grids.

For more on Power Hub see ‘Power Hub: An advanced virtual power plant. Helping Denmark and the Faroe Islands integrate wind power’ in Metering International Issue 3 2013.