As one of the heavyweights in the renewable energy sector, Siemens has not disappointed at the Intersolar conference currently being held in Munich after unveiling a series of new ventures that will help drive the evolution of the solar industry across the globe.
The most eye-grabbing of these is Siemens’ ambitions to power non-electrified parts of rural Africa with microgrids by joining forces with Solarkiosk, which already has a strong presence in the continent – it has deployed more than 250 projects in twelve African countries, serving roughly five million people.
Solarkiosk currently operates a solar powered E-HUBB, which serves as the business centrepiece for a rural “off-grid” village providing retail and energy related services such as charging for mobile phones, batteries and lights, as well as internet connectivity and financial inclusion services, among others.
Microgrids are more resilient and reliable than the traditional grid because power is generated locally rather than transmitted from one central utility source.
Solarkiosk’s projects in Africa will be managed on a daily basis by Siemens Microgrid Management System (MGMS), which optimises renewable energy sources by dispatching battery storage to ensure the grid is always operating in a reliable state. The system’s power can be optimised according to availability, efficiency and cost. If it’s windy, the system may switch to wind power.
The first joint project as a basis for further development will be located in Rwanda for which Siemens will implement a microgrid gateway to analyse data from both Solarkiosk’s existing energy systems and retail businesses and to enable remote control of the E-HUBB, with an aim to improve service and energy usage.
The gateway will be connected to applications running on Siemens’ EnergyIP smart grid application platform powered by MindSphere – Siemens’ cloud-based open operating system for the Internet of Things (IoT).
“With Siemens’ microgrid applications powered by MindSphere, Solarkiosk will be able to improve serviceability of the electrical equipment and make sure the energy is used in the most efficient way. Furthermore, the analysed data supports Solarkiosk in making the most economic decisions by evaluating productivity of different service offerings,” said Ralf Christian, CEO of Siemens’ Energy Management Division.
“If the B2B microgrid grows further you can do even more with the collected data and local control capability. That’s our motivation for a co-creation agreement to define the next system generation maximising value for all partners.”
Siemens has also announced at Intersolar that it will be developing its microgrid solutions further through a project in Finland awarded to it by Lempaalan Energia. The project’s objective is to create an energy self-sufficient business district in the industrial area of Marjamaki for which the energy will be produced by two solar panel fields, with an annual electricity output of 3,600 MWh and will feature more than 15,000 panels.
“The combination of advanced control, distributed grid architecture and assets in form of microgrids will ensure the grid is operated as reliably, resiliently, and efficiently as possible,” said Thomas Zimmermann, CEO Digital Grids at Siemens Energy Management.
Siemens also announced that it is partnering with Athon Energia, a Brazilian investment holding company focused on distributed generation and renewable energy projects to provide digital solutions for its energy management. This partnership will incorporate a digital billing system that allows smart calculation of electric energy consumption, as well as enabling remote power plant control.
“There is significant potential in the distributed energy market, both in Brazil and globally,” said John Kovach, global head distributed energy systems, Siemens Energy Management division.
“Today, industrial companies have new opportunities to take control of their energy costs, security of supply, and reduction of CO2 emissions with local energy solutions. In addition, by utilising digital and customised services, we can help to leverage the full potential of these systems,” Kovach said.