Demand Analysis and Optimization of Renewable Energy: Sustainable Rural Electrification of Mbanayili, Ghana
Nearly ninety percent of people in rural northern Ghana are without electricity. Many offgrid projects undertaken by the Ghanaian Government to provide electricity to this region have been largely unsuccessful due to the fiscal burdens that prevent the coverage of operational and maintenance costs. This case study project proposes a sustainable electrification system and implementation plan for Mbanayili, a village in northern Ghana. The term "sustainable" is used in reference to two factors: 1) the fiscal sustainability of the villagers to maintain and pay for electrification, accomplished by using a manageable and affordable power generation system and 2) environmental sustainability, through the use of renewable energy. In order to minimize costs, partial electrification was proposed: electrifying a multifunctional community center as opposed to each individual residence.
An on-site needs assessment was conducted in the summer of 2006 and questionnaire responses from 133 villagers was used to determine preferences for electric appliances and related activities (e.g., education and entertainment) as well as villagers' willingness-to-pay for electricity. After the data were analyzed, a power consumption load curve for the community
center was derived. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Hybrid Optimization Model for Electric Renewables (HOMER) software was then used to design the optimal power generation system. A hybrid energy system, consisting of both photovoltaic (PV) arrays and a generator, was determined as the optimal configuration (benchmark model) to meet villagers'
ideal load curve. The feasibility of supplementing a fraction of fuel usage with a locally produced biofuel (Jatropha) was also investigated. Using demand side management (DSM), an alternative system was designed to meet financial sustainability requirements. This system consists of only PV arrays. Lastly, a multi-stage implementation plan was proposed (using DSM
and a revenue generation scheme) to expand electricity generation capacity over time.