Solar pow­er and micro­grid intel­li­gence for urban pow­er grid

The city-wide pow­er grid of Berbera (Soma­liland) includ­ing the largest port in the region will be mon­i­tored and con­trolled with micro­grid tech­nol­o­gy from DHYBRID (Gaut­ing) from April 2021. In the net­work of the Berbera Elec­tric­i­ty Com­pa­ny (BEC), two solar plants with a total capac­i­ty of 8 MW, a lithi­um-ion elec­tric­i­ty stor­age sys­tem with a capac­i­ty of 2 megawatt hours and three mod­ern diesel gen­er­a­tors were com­bined for this pur­pose. This has enabled BEC to reduce the elec­tric­i­ty tar­iff in Berbera, which is now the low­est in Soma­liland and the Soma­li Penin­su­la as a whole.

DHYBRID was able to real­ize the exten­sive expan­sion despite the ongo­ing pan­dem­ic and the far-reach­ing logis­ti­cal chal­lenges with the help of inter­na­tion­al part­ner teams and remote commissioning.

High ener­gy prices and more and more solar installations

Soma­lia and the Repub­lic of Soma­liland are among the coun­tries with the high­est ener­gy prices in the world. Iso­lat­ed city grids with diesel gen­er­a­tors char­ac­ter­ize the ener­gy sys­tem. At the same time, the demand for elec­tri­cal ener­gy is grow­ing due to the rapid expan­sion of infra­struc­ture. The port of Berbera, for exam­ple, is intend­ed to improve the flow of goods to Ethiopia, with its pop­u­la­tion of over 100 mil­lion, and is cur­rent­ly being expand­ed at a cost of almost half a bil­lion dol­lars. Berbera also has its own air­ports, which are also sup­plied with ener­gy by BEC.

In order to improve the ener­gy sup­ply, more and more pho­to­volta­ic pow­er plants are being built in Soma­liland in addi­tion to exist­ing gen­er­a­tors. This change pos­es great chal­lenges for the grids: “Dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tors in the grid must be con­tin­u­ous­ly coor­di­nat­ed, espe­cial­ly when renew­able ener­gies are involved. Oth­er­wise, prob­lems with grid fre­quen­cy and volt­age are pre-pro­grammed and the avail­able pow­er can­not even be exploit­ed,” explains Benedikt Böhm from DHYBRID. “Just look­ing at installed solar capac­i­ty is not enough because of this, good grid man­age­ment is essential.”

Uni­ver­sal Pow­er Plat­form coor­di­nates decen­tral­ized generators

“The require­ment was clear: Berbera need­ed a scal­able pow­er sup­ply that we could mon­i­tor and man­age cen­tral­ly and as quick­ly as pos­si­ble. DHYBRID suc­ceed­ed in both with the Uni­ver­sal Pow­er Plat­form; the pow­er qual­i­ty and per­for­mance of the net­work increased notice­ably imme­di­ate­ly after com­mis­sion­ing,” says Ibrahim Yaqub, CEO of BEC. As a result, the pow­er fac­tor of Berber­a’s entire urban net­work has increased by 20 per­cent. This made the dis­tri­b­u­tion much more resilient and the pow­er gen­er­a­tion much more effi­cient. Addi­tion­al­ly, by phas­ing out the use of large amounts of diesel fuel, Berbera is now the largest town in Soma­liland pow­ered by renew­able ener­gy. In addi­tion, the city now oper­ates the largest bat­tery stor­age sys­tem in the country.

BEC uses DHY­BRID’s tech­nol­o­gy open Uni­ver­sal Pow­er Plat­form (UPP) as process con­trol sys­tem and mon­i­tors its ener­gy net­work with the SCADA sys­tem of the micro­grid spe­cial­ists from Ger­many. The term SCADA stands for Super­vi­so­ry Con­trol And Data Acqui­si­tion and describes com­put­er-aid­ed sys­tems for mon­i­tor­ing tech­ni­cal equipment.

DHY­BRID’s lithi­um-ion stor­age can be oper­at­ed both in par­al­lel with the grid and in grid-form­ing mode. In this oper­at­ing mode, in con­junc­tion with the UPP, it almost com­plete­ly excludes grid insta­bil­i­ties and dis­tur­bances, which are trig­gered, among oth­er things, by the increas­ing ener­gy demand.

The project in Soma­liland is one of the first in the world to use DHY­BRID’s patent­ed Max­i­mum Invert­er Pow­er Track­ing (MIPT), which increas­es the amount of solar pow­er in microgrids.