New integrated hybrid microgrid could supply renewable, cheap and efficient energy to remote areas

Microgrid flow diagram

By bringing together solar, wind and battery energy sources, this newly-proposed microgrid could supply sunny, windy remote areas with a significant amount of renewable energy, and at substantially improved efficiency and cost levels compared with other types of microgrid. 

Researchers at the University of Sheffield have proposed a new integrated hybrid solar thermal and wind-based microgrid power system. The paper, authored by Bashar Shboul and Dr Stavros Michailos and others from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, studies the performance of the proposed technology under various operating conditions, and includes a particular case study of using the technology in the northern area of Jordan.

Microgrids are independent energy systems which operate separately from national-level grids. When  powered by renewable energy microgrids are one of the many solutions that are on track to become part of the worldwide solution to our current fossil fuel-centred energy supply. As they are able to be controlled at a local level, they can help to support regions with irregular energy needs such as remote geographic locations. They can also help to balance energy demands and increase the reliability of energy generation. 

Many microgrids are designed or proposed with solar and wind energy resources, however, renewable energy generated by weather conditions can be unreliable and lead to power outages if not balanced correctly. To deal with this, microgrids are integrated with battery banks. In order to understand how to optimise these microgrids for power generation, the researchers carried out a post-design analysis of the new hybrid system and calculated the generated power and efficiency.

Using twenty years worth of weather data, the study looked at the operating conditions the microgrid system would experience if it was placed in Mafraq, Jordan. As a very arid, sunny and windy region, the study found that the integrated microgrid could generate up to 1500kWe per year, meaning it could be substantially used as a distributed power generation system for a low to medium-scale microgrid system.

The study found that the cost of energy was significantly reduced using the system, meaning that it is both efficient and cost-effective when used in a hot and dry area, and therefore could be a viable alternative to current energy systems.

Read the full study

Centres of excellence

The University's cross-faculty research centres harness our interdisciplinary expertise to solve the world's most pressing challenges.