Solar Microgrids in Nepal…School Microgrid in Sonoma County..Microgrid Investment in the Azores

March 18, 2016
Solar microgrids bring reliable power to three remote villages in Nepal…Sonoma County school district plans microgrid…Recharge to invest in $27 million Azorean island project

Solar microgrids are bringing reliable power to three remote villages in Nepal, a country where nearly a quarter of the population has no access to electricity.

With a combined capacity of 35 kW and battery storage, the solar microgrids installed in the Okhaldhunga and Khotang districts will provide round-the-clock power to some 540 people, saving households and businesses money, avoiding carbon emissions and creating opportunity for local business to generate income.

Local industries will now have power for agro-processing grinding mills and dairy chillers. Electricity costs for households are forecast at $4-$6 per month, whereas households that currently rely on kerosene (for lighting alone) can pay up to $10 a month. By using solar power rather than fossil fuels, the microgrid project will avoid 41 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year.

“The solar microgrids that we are piloting here provide a clean, cost-effective, local solution involving the private sector that will change the lives of these communities and serve as a model for other far-flung villages,” said Jiwan Acharya, Senior Energy Specialist at the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The solar microgrids and battery storage were built by Gham Power with local communities, with a $100,000 grant from ADB through its Energy for All Program and other technical and financial assistance from the DOEN Foundation and NMB Bank, in close collaboration with Alternative Energy Promotion Center.


A school district in Sonoma County, California signed a memorandum of understanding for a microgrid to be designed and installed by Wooster Engineering.

The Sonoma Valley Unified School District, which serves more than 4,600 school children, already has a solar installation, which will be part of the microgrid.

Wooster Engineering is exploring grant opportunities to help pay for the microgrid. It plans to tailor the microgrid’s other energy resources, including possible bulk hydrogen energy storage, to grant requirements, according to Craig Wooster, owner and operator of Wooster Engineering.

Wooster Engineering is known for its work on the Stone Edge Farm Micogrid Project, located at a vineyard and winery in Sonoma, California. Other partners working on the Stone Edge project include Pacific Gas & Electric and Enphase Energy.


Danish financial investor Recharge A/S will take a 50.1 percent stake in the $27 million Younicos-engineered microgrid under construction on the Azorean island of Graciosa.

The ‘island-mode’ capability of the project’s intelligent battery system will enable up to 100 percent spontaneous renewable power penetration and allow the Portuguese island to replace around two-thirds of its fossil fuel generation with cheap renewable energy, according to Younicos.

“This investment will have truly transformative impact far beyond Graciosa. Recharge is helping to create a whole new renewable energy asset class that will drive the implementation of low carbon – and low cost – technologies around the globe,” said Younicos CEO Stephen Prince. “Our technology allows us to use as many renewables as is economically optimal. This is not only drastically reducing CO2 emissions, but also lowering energy costs, since we are replacing expensive imported diesel fuel through locally produced renewable energy.”

Under the terms of the power purchase agreement with local utility EDA, savings are shared between the investors and the project’s consumers. Younicos and battery provider Leclanché, in which Recharge is an investor, are also working on bringing similar solutions to the other Azorean islands and beyond.

“The business model pioneered here makes the financing of the changeover to renewables an attractive investment that can be replicated wherever power is generated by expensive imported fuel,” said Scott Macaw, co-founder and director of Recharge.

Anil Srivastava, CEO of Leclanché added: “This project marks the first time a megawatt-scale power system is being stabilized using batteries – without the need for thermal generators.”

Construction company DS has completed the project’s 1-megawatt photovoltaic power plant and most building work. Lithium-ion cells from Leclanché, which will power the system’s fully automated 3.2 MWh intelligent battery park, are currently being installed, as is a 4.5-MW wind park.

Once all components are in place, the Younicos software and controls will enable the grid-forming battery power plant to balance short-term power fluctuations. This will allow the island to be powered by wind and solar energy, with the existing diesel needed only for back-up power during prolonged periods of unfavorable weather.


In battery storage news, Northern Power Systems’ FlexPhase power conversion system has been selected to provide power conversion for a major energy storage project in Pullman, Washington, the largest capacity flow battery deployed in North America. The battery, located near Washington State University and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL), went online in April 2015. The project was funded in part by a grant from the Washington State Clean Energy Fund, now in its second round, and Avista matching funds.

The batteries are manufactured by Washington-based UET, and integrated with the NPS power converters. The core of the UET system is an advanced vanadium flow battery, engineered utilizing Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL) technology developed starting in 2006 with funding from the DOE’s Office of Electricity. The system has been used to date by Avista for load shifting, frequency regulation, and voltage regulation on the distribution circuit in Pullman. With the addition of the NPS converters, the UET product will also support Avista’s end customer SEL, offering uninterruptible power supply, black start and four-cycle ride-through to SEL’s manufacturing facility.

David Ridley, UET director of Electrical Engineering said, “We are pleased to be working with Northern Power Systems on this critical project, as their technology allows us to extract the best value for the customer and enable functionalities like black-start, seamless critical load support and microgrid-ready features that most others aren’t offering.”

Follow Microgrid Knowledge on twitter @MicrogridNews.

About the Author

Cara Goman

Exploring the Potential of Community Microgrids Through Three Innovative Case Studies

April 8, 2024
Community microgrids represent a burgeoning solution to meet the energy needs of localized areas and regions. These microgrids are clusters of interconnected energy resources,...

Get the full report

Choosing the Right Commissioning Partner for Solar + BESS Project Success

Learn how working with the right commissioning partner can ensure your solar + BESS project performs as expected and provides optimal financial returns.