Hybrid microgrid pilot takes shape in Singapore

SINGAPORE: A microgrid project being built in Singapore, comprising renewables, energy storage and diesel generation, could have potential application across the tropics.

Singapore's NTU is trialling a series of hybrid projects for deployment across south-east Asia
Singapore's NTU is trialling a series of hybrid projects for deployment across south-east Asia

The population of the countries in south-east Asia, including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, stands at 625 million.

Around 125 million of these have either no or very sporadic access to electricity.

For these areas where deployment of integrated energy transmission systems is neither technically or economically viable, using diesel generators is the only option for electricity production.

The solution to provide clean, reliable electricity across the region lies in off-grid microgrids. However deployment in this type of infrastructure is limited to date.

To support the development of microgrids in south-east Asia, Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is leading the renewable energy integration demonstrator — Singapore (Reids) project.

When fully constructed Reids will be the largest hybrid microgrid test and research platform in the tropics.

The project will help to de-risk the commercialisation of microgrid technologies and systems, suitable for tropical conditions.

NTU is working with a consortium of global corporations, to test and demonstrate the integration of various technologies, including solar PV, wind, tidal, diesel, storage, waste-to-energy and power-to-gas technologies suitable for deployment in south-east Asia.

International partners on the project include turbine manufacturer Vestas, GE, Schneider Electric, solar companies REC and Trina Solar, developer Engie, battery maker Varta and Accenture.

The Singapore Economic Development Board and National Environment Agency are supporting the project.

Four microgrids

The project will comprise four microgrids. The first, which finished completion in December, consists of 400kW of solar PV, 500kW of diesel power and 200kW/200kWh of lithium ion battery storage.

The remaining three microgrids will start construction in the first quarter of 2017 and will begin operating in the third quarter 2017.

They will each be between 400kW and 800kW in size. One of the microgrids will deploy a Xant M-21 100kW wind turbine. Each of the three remaining microgrids will deploy between 200kW-300kW solar PV.

Other types of energy storage technologies will be built and tested in the Reids microgrid project, including redox flow batteries, supercapacitors, flywheel storage and compressed air.

Deployment and operation of hybrid microgrid systems in off-grid areas provides different challenges to other microgrid deployments.

The Reids project will focus on ease of deployment, ruggedness and low cost operations, as opposed to optimising the system's for maximum energy efficiency and minimising losses.

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