A new stand-alone photovoltaic power package which could solve electricity problems for remote off-grid areas is to be trialled in Indonesia in July.
Many inhabitants of the country’s 13,000 islands currently lack access to electricity. The Power Supply Container [pictured], which does not require professional assembly, contains 12 Panasonic HIT 240 solar modules capable of generating approximately 3kW of electricity, and is equipped with 24 leadacid storage batteries which can supply stored power (17.2kWh total).
“Island communities are at the forefront of many sustainability challenges, and solutions like this can point the way to a sustainable economy for the rest of the world”, says Will Dawson, Head of Energy at Forum for the Future.
Panasonic’s newly developed Power Supply Control Unit will act as an energy management system, monitoring the surplus electricity level of the lead-acid batteries and controlling supply and demand, which Panasonic claim will heavily reduce deterioration, life-cycle cost and the maintenance requirements of the batteries.
The container itself has been designed to be easily assembled, expandable and portable – measuring 3m x 2.4m x 2.6m with a mass of 3000kg – which Panasonic hopes will encourage its adoption on the smaller islands of Indonesia. The retail price of the equipment has not yet been publicised, but the company is hoping to reduce it to affordable levels for remote populations through mass production.
As part of Indonesia’s ‘Educational Environment Improvement Policy for Isolated Islands’, The National Elementary School Karimunjawa, located on a tiny island to the north of Java, has been chosen as the first test site. It is being developed with funding from the Official Development Assistance budget of the Embassy of Japan in Indonesia. Nighttime electricity on the island is currently produced by diesel generators, and there is no supply available during the day, which impacts upon educational facilities. Excess energy generated outside of school hours will be used to stabilise the power supply in the local community.
“It is the right solution for this community”, says Dawson. “It gives pupils access to electricity for better education, reduces polluting diesel fuel burning in generators … and powers local businesses.”
An Indonesian manufacturer has been chosen to oversee the manufacturing and quality control process for the container. This should allow Panasonic to monitor both the technical development and the maintenance of the system during trials, which has proved a challenge in the past.
Photo credit: Panasonic