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人民的权力

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人民的权力

Lecturer 尼尔·韦德 is leading a project to develop much-needed energy systems for areas without access to modern power sources.

We might be used to charging our phones on demand and cooking our meals without a second thought. 但并不是每个人都是这样.

In some remote areas of the world and those lacking resources, it is not economical. Or, it’s simply impossible to create the national grid infrastructure that we take for granted.

尼尔·韦德 is Lecturer in Power Systems at 大发体育下载’s School of Engineering. 他正在领导一个引入微电网的项目, 本质上是一个更易于管理的基础设施, 到世界的这些地方. Wherever possible they are based on clean, renewable energy sources such as solar.

A microgrid is an independent electricity supply system. 一个没有连接到国家电网的地方. It is most often found in remote areas that struggle to access enough power.

They include a generator and some form of storage. They have a footprint of somewhere between 10 and 20 square metres and supply a small group of energy users.

An abstract image of a smartphone plugged into the desert sand.

微型电网的管理

“The big difference with microgrids is that you need to balance the supply of power and consumption more carefully than in a grid system,”尼尔解释说.

“一个常规的网格会为你管理这个. But where an area doesn’t have this infrastructure, that energy storage system must sit within the microgrid."

Energy storage is expensive, so creating these systems with an eye on cost-effectiveness is key. Neal explains: “It’s very important to design systems in such a way that you minimise the amount of energy storage you need to use. Then you operate it in a way that has the least degradation effect on that storage.”

Neal has found that one or two years after construction, a new energy storage system is often needed. 但是,这并不是唯一需要考虑的费用.

还有终生运行成本. 包括保养和维修吗. As such, building microgrids in remote areas is not always feasible.

“All these things have to be balanced against one another,尼尔说:“. “There’s the initial cost of installing the microgrid, the cost of running it and a risk that the power is not always going to be available.

"Because if you make the storage system smaller, 它是便宜的, but it means you might not get the full service from the system all the time.”

Mobiles are widespread in Sub-Saharan Africa and a lot of people do their banking through their phones. 但给手机充电可能很棘手.

尼尔·韦德

现代化的生活

乍一看, the primary benefit of this project would appear to be improving people’s quality of life. But, Neal points out that this is about modernisation more than anything else.

“People might be quite happy with their quality of life, so there’s a premise in there that we’re simply modernising the way that people live.”

然而, 有明显的需求, particularly in one area where a desire for modernity doesn’t match the requisite energy supply.

“Mobile phone charging is a huge thing,尼尔说:“. “手机在撒哈拉以南非洲很普遍. A lot of people do their banking through their phones. 但给手机充电可能很棘手.”

A lack of energy supply often has a damaging effect on education. This is a topic this project is working to tackle. “The amount of energy that’s used in a low-income country is just a fraction of what’s used in the developed world,尼尔说:“.

“A lot of labour is required in what people are doing, because of their lack of fuel. This impacts on their education, as they’ve got to spend more time looking after their basic needs.”

Improving access to energy will also make headway in improving the health of the people in these communities. Many homes will use kerosene or open fires for cooking.

Not only are these expensive and come with a plethora of supply-chain issues, 但它们也造成了污染.

人多力量大

尼尔一直在当地社区工作. He has also been working with non-governmental organisations such as Practical Action. They implement best-practice findings from the private sector and research in these communities.

His most recent project in Sub-Saharan Africa lasted three years. During this time he worked mostly from 大发体育下载. But took four trips to the area, each lasting about a week.

“This isn’t about people, like me or Practical Action, coming in and bringing everything with us. There’s a lot more interaction than that,” concludes Neal.

“Capacity building is about improving the knowledge of people, so they can work with these systems in their own communities.”