A plan to turn microgrids into virtual power plants

SOLshare wants to connect solar-powered homes to the main grid.

SHORTLIST (Technology Innovation Challenge)

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Brief but disruptive power outages are a fact of life for villages using diesel and hybrid micro-grids, together with constant fluctuations in voltage, damaging electrical appliances as well as the grid network itself.

Relevant Sustainable Development Goals

Now, SOLshare engineers want to take this idea one step further by connecting solar-powered homes to the grid, so the whole country can better manage its energy needs too.

Solar homes could operate as a virtual power plant, providing an additional source of power for Bangladesh’s over-extended rural grid. 

The grid is prone to brownouts and blackouts, even though there is enough power to go round, as it struggles to adjust to surges in demand.

Clean energy could be sold to the grid where it needs it most while providing back-up at the edges of the network, where low-voltage problems that disrupt supply are most common. 

A more stable delivery system is cheaper to run too, making it easier to bring down electricity prices and widen access in rural areas. 

This would also help reduce urban migration, lowering the pressure on city resources, while bolstering local development and economic growth. 

Solar leader

Bangladesh is a global leader in solar power, where 25 million people already source their electricity from the sun.

However, there are still more than 15 million homes, about 20% of Bangladesh’s rural population, without electricity.

At the same time, renewables only make up around 3% of the country’s energy mix, against a 10% target. 

Initiatives such as SOLshare’s can support Bangladesh’s wider energy program. 

The company has received government approval for a technical feasibility study to integrate a solar P2P microgrid with the national grid through a single point of connection. This study will be carried out in 2021.

SOLshare is the brainchild of German entrepreneur Sebastain Groh, who moved to Bangladesh to start the company in 2014 after interning with German renewables specialist, MicroEnergy International.

Since launch, the company has rolled out 50 solar peer-to-peer micro-grids in Bangladesh and two in India (in the northeastern state of Assam) with 65 more in the pipeline.

SOLshare was shortlisted in the ‘Renewable energy-based micro-grids’ category for the ADB’s Energy Sector Technology Innovation Challenge.

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Sebastian Groh

Managing Director, SOLshare

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