Bringing Electrical Power to Rural Areas
August 03, 2015, Keith Teichmann
Fifteen percent of the world’s population lives on the African continent, but the electrification rate there is only 42 percent. With all the advancements in technology today, it seems erroneous that there are still 1.3 billion people in the world living without access to electricity. And on top of that a large number of this group, about 84 percent, lives in rural areas that have not established an infrastructure or do not have consistent access to one that supports their energy needs. These Sub-Saharan zones are basically living in darkness and need outside help in building an infrastructure to bring in electricity.
In South Africa, for example, utility company, Eskom – which provides the country with 95 percent of its electricity – is considering instituting daily controlled rolling blackouts. They have more than seven million people to add to the grid, and an infrastructure that is not robust enough to support them all at once.
Problems like the one Eskom is facing are far too common in third world countries. There are utilities that have energy to give, but are using archaic technology that prevents them from deploying it to the masses. The two most outdated approaches to delivering energy that is plaguing these utilities are:
- Operating a distribution grid by looking at only the substations. If we can help utilities in these regions deploy technology that would add data from endpoints (meters) and intermediate points (reclosers, breakers, transformers, etc.), they will significantly modernize their operations.
- Collecting voltage information from the endpoints. This is somewhat related to the previous point, but operating without this information creates a potentially dangerous blind spot that can lead to outages and worse. Technology that helps the utilities in these regions collect this information would go a long way.
There are solutions available. Utilities in Africa, like Eskom, can look to cloud computing technologies, including the solutions in the Delta Smart Grid Network (DSGN™), as a way to correct the issues mentioned above head on. The DSGN provides configurable computing power so that data storage can be easily added, to almost any level, to store the data needed for robust analytics. Delta’s DSGN empowers utilities to unlock a wealth of information that can lower operational costs and maximize investments in the region – all with low initial implementation costs. And if we can connect African utilities to the cloud using modern technologies and engineering – the benefits for the entire globe are endless.
For regions like Sub-Saharan Africa, which alone accounts for 585 million people living without electricity, reliable rural electrification is needed to bring a better quality of life to residents. We are confident that our solutions will deliver better energy management to third world countries, like Africa, so that there is a higher potential to raise them out of third-world status and bring them one step closer to enjoying technologies that the rest of the world is lucky to be able to use daily.