The community of Xique-Xique, in the municipality of Remanso (BA), will be the first location where Neoenergia will install a microgrid in an isolated area, a solution that will be supplied by a centralized system with solar energy and storage by batteries. The initiative is part of a pilot project that the company carries out to benefit a rural area that is not yet served by electricity. The differential is in the storage system and in the innovative factor - the microgrid market is little explored in Brazil. The generation in the community will be exclusively solar, with capacity to attend 103 consumer units, and the batteries will guarantee the supply for 48h, when there is not enough solar radiation for maximum efficiency by the plates.
Besides the uniqueness within the program Light for All (Luz para Todos, in Portuguese), the project involves the simulation of a microgrid to evaluate the application of supercapacitors - a storage solution that uses a new technology and not yet widespread in field activities. "The facility will be able to generate data so that, in the laboratory, the application of a microgrid simulation with supercapacitor storage will be performed, as well as evaluating solar plate degradation in operation in the environment. LabSolar, the first laboratory for studies and certification of solar energy systems in the Northeast of Brazil, inaugurated by Neoenergia in Salvador in partnership with the Instituto de Física da Universidade Federal da Bahia and the government of the state of Bahia participate in the research", says José Antônio Brito, Neoenergia's Corporate R&D Manager.
The project, which is in the planning stage and is expected to start operating in the first half of 2021, uses resources from the Research and Development Program (R&D), (Programa de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento, in Portuguese) regulated by the National Electric Energy Agency (Aneel), and is also part of the federal government program Luz para Todos, which aims to bring electrification to remote areas, universalizing access to energy. "At the moment, Neoenergia adopts two solutions to serve isolated customers: we extend the conventional grid or deploy individualized solar systems. Microgrids, with centralized generation and storage can be a solution to improve efficiency and quality of supply," says Débora Catão, Smart Grids engineer at Neoenergia.
The capacity of the microgrid developed by Neoenergia will generate a power of 240 kW DC/180 kW AC. This means that the generation system can guarantee an average energy consumption of 80kWh for the 103 homes in the community of Xique-Xique. The storage system, with useful capacity measured on the AC side of 928 kWh, will guarantee the same consumption even when there is not enough radiation for a period of 48 hours. Both the sun and the wind are sources of energy generation that are subject to interference from nature, therefore the importance of a system that stores this energy for times when solar capture is not possible. In view of this, a study was carried out to dimension the energy demand on site, with lithium batteries being installed in an amount greater than that required to reinforce the system.
"An appropriate storage system allows the use of the energy generated from the solar capture not to be restricted to a period, because the storage system is charged during the day and, at night, is available for use. The advantage of the microgrid also applies to the fact that not everyone uses energy at the same time. With this, it is possible to deliver energy with greater quality to those who are consuming at that moment", explains Brito.
With the arrival of electricity in the rural area, it is common to observe the return of some families that had previously migrated to other regions, as observed by Mayline Pinto, supervisor of the Luz Para Todos Management Unit. "We are concerned about the impacts that this implementation will have on the lives of families, following how the community will behave economically after having access to electricity. This is also an opportunity for us to evaluate the feasibility of installing the solar generation microgrids to serve other locations in the same model, expanding the universalization of access to electricity".
Existing since 2004, the Luz para Todos program is a partnership between the federal government and the distributors. In Bahia alone, it has already been responsible for more than 650,000 connections, bringing energy to 1.8 million people in the rural area of the state.