Solar-Hybrid Mini-Grid Lights Up Brazilian Island

An innovative mini-grid in April turned on the lights for about 250 residents living in Ilha Grande, a tiny island on the northwest coast of Maranhão State in northeastern Brazil. The project, implemented by Dresser-Rand subsidiary Guascor and Spanish technology provider Zigor, consists of a photovoltaic solar field, energy storage batteries, and a small back-up generator to provide reliable energy to the island, which is unconnected to the mainland grid (Figure 4).

4. Light for all. Dresser-Rand and Spanish technology company Zigor teamed up to furnish a tiny Brazilian island with a mini power station that provides reliable power for its 250 inhabitants. The station includes a solar photovoltaic field, energy storage batteries, and a small back-up generator. Courtesy: Zigor

The island was energized under a Brazilian government 2003-initiated “Luz Para Todos” (Light for All), program, and it is expected to supply the current and future energy demands of the small community, providing continuous and reliable electricity. Before the Electric Company of State of Maranhão asked the companies to seek a solution, the island’s small population “used to live on just a few hours of energy every day provided by diesel generators,” Dresser-Rand said in a statement.

According to Zigor, the island’s infrastructure is based on a 50-kW hybrid inverter, model HIT-C 50, that can generate alternating current from different inputs, including renewables, battery, and fossil-fired generation. “EES [electrical energy storage] and the hybridization of electricity generation is no longer a technological challenge, but an opportunity to feasibly select the most cost-competitive investment and lowest possible kWh cost for many sites where previous technologies were uneconomical or unfeasible and as a result, EES plus hybridizing technology are pushing the development of new remote areas worldwide,” the company said.

Zigor in March installed a 100-kW hybrid inverter in Lonavala, in the Indian state of Maharashtra, a project that has become an “important milestone in new applications of renewable energy in India,” the company said. That off-grid system includes a total of 80 kW of solar photovoltaic panels connected to a hybrid inverter and an energy storage battery “bank” consisting two banks of 30 cells using 150 amp-hour (Ah) and 240 Ah batteries.

Sonal Patel is POWER’s senior writer.