What is an off-grid community?
- An off-grid community is a small community, most likely village-level (100-10,000 inhabitants), that is able to operate completely independently of all traditional public utility services. In this storify we envisage off-grid communities to be completely food and energy independent.
Why off-grid communities?
- "Millions can be lifted out of poverty without ruining the planet with the help of clean sustainable energy." -Practical Action (formerly ITDG) ,Power to the People, 2002
- "Food security and energy security are closely related,but they need the underpinning of environmental security and sustainability" -.M.S. Swaminathan, 2015
- "The extent of physical hardship imposed on poor women in acquiring and using energy for the most basic survival needs is an enslavement that denies them vital opportunities to escape their state of deprivation" -.K.V. Ramani, Energy as an Instrument of Women’s Economic Empowerment, 2002
- 1. Off-grid communities are energy-independent. They will have enough energy to meet their requirements!
- 2. Off-grid communities will enable students, both adult and child, increased time to aquire existing knowledge and assist humanity in acquiring further knowledge!
- 3. Off-grid communities will have a rich and varied diet consisting of all required macro- and micro-nutrients, without worries of pesticide contamination
- 4. Off-grid communities will have access to clean potable water and individual flushing toilets
- 5. Off-grid communities will be free of the pollution associated with biomass cookers and internal combustion engines
- 6. Off-grid communities will be freed from the drudgery of repetitive work and instead able to participate in knowledge-based economic activities
Let's look at the essential elements that an off-grid community would require to accomplish these [rather grandiose <- delete that] aims:
- Energy requirements can be met through the utilisation of a variety of technologies. The choice of technology employed depends upon the local environment. For instance, is there a local stream for a microhydroelectric plant?
- Useful energy technologies: solar photovoltaic panels, microhydroelectric power from local rivers and streams, geothermal energy, wind turbines, bioenergy from algae
- It's of upmost importance that an off-grid community has somewhere to store energy that has been collected! For instance, solar panels allow light to be changed to electrical and thermal energy, but only during daytime. The daytime is not when inhabitants will be doing most of their cookery and study (using computers and LED lighting). Some earlier designs have failed to take this into account!
- The major uses of electrical energy are: lighting (24hr lighting), communications equipment (cellular tower, satellite, radio), computing, refrigeration, water filtering and treatment, charging of electrical vehicles, irrigation technologies. The major use of solar thermal energy, which can be stored in hot sand or salt, is for cooking.
Energy supply: Solar PV Microgrid
- A communal battery array will be used to store electrical energy which can then be utilised for lighting, communications, computing and refrigeration when it is required.