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Hybrid Renewable Energy Systems

Hybrid Renewable Energy Systems - people with solar panels and generating electricity with a light

The Challenge: Access to Energy for Rural Communities

The development of human history has proved the importance of electricity in sustaining life. Impacting nearly every aspect of life, electricity maintains our standard of living and is a key factor for economic growth, health, and quality of life. A recent report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) indicated that in 2010 about 590 million people in Africa (57% of the population) had no access to electricity (IRENA 2013). In rural communities of central Africa, eradicating poverty and pursuing prosperity are highly correlated to steady availability of electricity. In central African nations, only 5% of the population has access to electricity from government-supported power grid; school-age children cannot read or write at night; and about 95% of rural water supply systems are out of service due to the lack of power for operation. Meeting the basic energy needs currently relies heavily on burning firewood. Dependence on burning firewood for energy results in deforestation and hazardous air quality.

students with a generator students with a solar panel

The Purdue Innovation: Hybrid Renewable Energy Systems

This team is developing a hybrid energy solutions to power off-grid communities in developing countries. The project will work with communities to determine energy needs, and the potential sources for energy (solar, hydro, wind), and will develop an off-grid renewable energy system to power rural African communities. In the annual nine-month rain season, micro-hydropower systems can be used to produce electricity; in the dry season, hybrid wind-solar systems can be used as a complimentary solution. The designed technology, using readily sourced materials, will be transferred to our local partner for further development. It will be an important asset for improving education, quality of life, and outreach to the rest of the world for pursuing sustainable prosperity. In Spring of 2016, the team will work on (a) design and test of digital electrical loading controller for micro-hydropower system and (b) prototype design and test of a new wind-solar hybrid system.

The Partners:

Purdue University, African Center for Renewable Energy & Sustainable Technology (ACREST), Western Bakossi Development (WEBDA) (Cameroon)

Jun Chen, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering,

African Center for Renewable Energy & Sustainable Technology (ACREST) (Cameroon)


2016 EPA P3 YCOSST Award Presented to Purdue University and University of Kentucky

Video: Project overview

Video: Update from 2015 implementation trip