Mini grid resilience through integration of e-cooking loads
Off-grid solar (PV) mini grids are considered as cost effective alternative to centralised grid extension in remote rural areas across many electricity access deficit countries. However, poor per capita electrical demand remains the main challenge for long-term financial sustainability of such mini grids. E-cooking has the potential to enhance the financial viability and sustainability of mini grids by increasing electrical demand. Although, ‘Clean cooking’ has been a topic of research for many years, interest in e-cooking per se is relatively new, motivated by affordable and efficient (=low power) devices on the market. On the other hand, mini-grids have very constrained power capacity and there is a delicate balance between increasing demand and overloading the system. Therefore, the flexibility and adaptability of energy customers will be key in the success (or otherwise) of e-cooking in a mini-grid context.
Integration of e-cooking through an appropriate approach, will open up the opportunity for replacing expensive LPG and environmentally damaging firewood collection in the community while increasing income of the mini-grid through utilizing the excess power generated by the PV system in the daytime.
Project aims & objectives
For this study, to explore the potential of integrating electric cooking in mini grids, the Oloika Solar mini grid project will be used as the case study site. At present the mini-grid has 75 customers, who are currently using electricity only for lighting and other basic appliances. For cooking, the community uses firewood, charcoal and LPG. Switching customers from biomass based cooking to electric cooking requires both quantitative and qualitative data related to current cooking fuel uses, customers’ willingness to adapt electric cooking and related challenges. Therefore, this project will investigate various techno-economic approaches to identify the most suitable model that can be adapted by the planned deployment of around 100 mini grids by the Kenyan Government, as well as others in the region. This work aims to address the lack of data in this regard in a real working mini-grid in Kenya, originally developed by the Energy for Development Programme at the University of Southampton.
This study, under the Cooking Support on Mini-Grids’ (COSMO) programme is a part of the Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS) funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) and delivered by Loughborough University, to address key barriers to using electric cooking on mini-grids.