Mitiiation of Blackout in Kigali Using a Microgrid with Advanced Energy Storage and Solar Photovoltaics

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Virginia Tech


A blackout is defined as the loss of electric power for a given period in a particular area. With increasing dependence on reliable electric power, the social and economic ramifications of blackouts are dire, negatively impacting the productivity, safety, and security of communities. To reduce blackout occurrence, power system planners incorporate redundancy and advanced controls to the grid to make it more adaptable to disturbances. However, adding redundant transmission lines is not only expensive, it is suboptimal in some contexts. While it is unattainable to have no blackout, it is possible and necessary to implement measures that minimize the likelihood and scale of these outages. This work proposes a solution that uses a microgrid with advanced energy storage and solar PV to mitigate blackouts in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. A description and steady state analysis of major weaknesses in the Rwandan electric grid is presented. A microgrid application capable of islanding from the system is simulated in the steady state and shown to strengthen the system and decrease the likelihood of blackouts in Kigali. The composition of the microgrid is then designed, simulated, and optimized for technical and financial feasibility using the HOMER model. A microgrid that uses energy storage and solar PV is shown to not only be feasible, but also competitive with current costs of electricity in Rwanda. For comparison, different combinations that include diesel generation are also simulated.



Blackouts, microgrids, solar PV, energy storage, Rwanda