Design of a Solar Microgrid for the Community of Mpaga, Gabon based on its social and economic context
Tutor / director / evaluatorGomis Bellmunt, Oriol
Document typeBachelor thesis
Rights accessOpen Access
Energetic isolation is one of the most wide-spread problems amongst rural communities in many regions of the planet. Solar off-grid installations stand out as one of the best solutions to help these communities obtain access to electricity. The project consists in the design of a solar micro-grid for the community of Mpaga in Gabon, managed and funded by ESPACE AFRIQUE FONDATION. The aim has been to design and dimension a viable project that considers all the phases and factors involved in the planning, development and operation of a solar energy system in a remote area. These combine social, economic, infrastructural, logistical and technical considerations and requirements. The first step is to find a suitable community upon which the study will be based. After a period of contacting many organisations in Africa, a collaboration agreement was reached with Engineers Without Borders in Gabon to carry out this project in the community of Mpaga, which is built around a boarding school. The first section of the thesis consisted in the study of the community with the aim of understanding its energy needs. These included researching on its location, access, number of inhabitants, villagers’ habits, facilities, infrastructure, solar resources, etc... A load profile has been determined based on the devices and loads present in Mpaga and the villager’s lifestyle. For the design and dimensioning of the electrical installation, the general structure of the circuit has first been determined, only to proceed to the election of each electrical component based on costeffectiveness and performance indicators. Several energy-system optimizers have been useful to carry out the dimensioning of several components in the site. Acquisition, maintenance and replacement costs have been considered for every device. Other less obvious factors have proven to have a relevant impact on the total cost of the project, such as container ship transportation from Barcelona’s port to Mpaga or installation costs. The creation of a local institution in charge of managing the operation and maintenance of the site, as well as other less technical activities such as tariff design and collection or dealing with overconsuming villagers has proven to be an essential task if the installation is to operate successfully. Finally, after undergoing a 25-year long cashflow predictive analysis, the project has been confirmed as economically viable, and therefore the recommendation for ESPACE AFRIQUE is to proceed with the installation of the designed microgrid.