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Posted on March 22, 2018 by  & 

Off Grid Breakthroughs and Challenges

The conference "Off Grid Energy Independence" Berlin April 11-12 will be unique in focussing exclusively on zero emission off grid and fringe-of-grid advances, challenges and prospects globally. It will also be unique in being embedded in the "IDTechEx Show!" with its 200+ stand exhibition, 2500 paying delegates, eight other conferences and, on April 10 and 13, 30 optional masterclasses all on closely related topics such as electric vehicles, energy storage, graphene, IoT, sensors, 2D and 3D electrical printing and off grid. The off grid conference even embraces microgrids afloat, in space, travelling on the road, in the road and as mobile desalination plants, none of them ever needing the grid or fuel. Indeed, outdoor advertising leader JC Decaux gives the future of energy independent bus shelters and road furniture powering their own lighting, moving colour advertisements and so on.
This is the future and accepting these commonalities reveals that the market is much bigger and faster growing than is commonly portrayed. Analysts IDTechEx has carefully brought together the new systems and software aspects embracing Fintech, Blockchain and advance simulations with the new hardware such as wide bandgap power electronics, flexible, storm proof photovoltaics, solar roads and windows and advanced water power.
For example, Dr Peter Waegli advises, "Decentralized, (semi-)autonomous energy systems, promising considerable advantages over traditional grid-based systems, are becoming technologically and commercially feasible and are gaining attention at accelerating pace. As experience is limited, system design, technology selection and the development of business models still pose considerable challenges for potential adopters. At the event, I shall propose a holistic simulation approach for designing, analysing and optimising system architectures. Surrogate models for components (sources, storage, energy converters, controls, etc.), user applications and associated load profiles as well as for environmental impacts are interconnected to simulate system behaviour."
Experience will be shared from emerging countries to islands and grid defection. We asked speaker Stefan Jessenberger of Siemens Energy Management Division what the most significant challenges are that slow down further off grid market adoption. He replied, "There are uncertainties about the influence of an ever-growing share of distributed energy resources for the energy system and traditional business models. It is preventing utilities and regulators from further pushing this development. IDTechEx Show will help different stakeholders to get informed about technologies and solutions not only to tackle these challenges but also to use them to grow existing business or to enter new business models."
Speaker Dr Jens Eiko Birkholz of SMA Sunbelt Energy Germany added, "I consider one of the most important advances to be centralized battery inverters with grid-forming functionality which are capable - in combination with PV - to power entire islands in a commercially viable way. On the other hand, project finance is the biggest challenge as most off grid projects are based in regions/countries which don't have AAA rating. Additionally the inherent off-taker risk is making many investors reluctant to invest into Off-Grid / Mini-grid projects."
Speaker William Berenson of PWRStation Corp. Switzerland notes that, "IDTechEx is a recognized leader in market research and business intelligence for emerging technologies. We look forward to participating at the Berlin event and meeting exceptional thinkers and talent from around the world."
Giving his view on notable recent advances and challenges he added, "There are many exciting high level developments in photovoltaics, from hybrid solar cells that capture energy from the sun and raindrops... to new in-the-field applications including transportable, ultra-rapid deployment solar gensets and microgrids. There is a need to rapidly establish practical energy investment policy in emerging markets. This will create more predictable environments to facilitate government and private investment in energy producing infrastructure, which in turn will attract innovative energy providers to these markets."
From the Netherlands, Ampyx Power's founder and Technical Director Richard Ruiterkamp will describe how he and his team of more than 40 engineers is developing an Airborne Wind Energy System with a tethered, rigid wing, aircraft. His focus is safety: the company has started constructing a pre-operational demonstrator, AP-3, which approaches the safety and reliability levels of commercial airliners. He says, "I will also explain how the test- and verification campaign will look like at E.ON's demonstration site for Airborne Wind Energy (AWE) concepts in Ireland and how Ampyx Power will scale up to 2 MW of rated power and more." Yes, even the famous on grid power suppliers are embracing off grid now and this is a global activity. The new off grid world spans power from 1kW right up to 10MW or more. It even includes marine sources and uses such as floating desalination plants using wave power and many new forms of wave power suitable for off grid application and the event looks at suitable new river and wave power. A high proportion of cities are on the sea or a river and power from these can offset solar dead at night time.
Integration and going global is now the name of the game. For example, Claudio Pedtretti of Windkinetic Italy covers his autonomous wind/solar off-grid system for an offshore platform in the Caspian Sea, Kazakhstan. PBES of Canada covers, "Disaster To Resiliency: Caribbean Destruction Spurs Shift To Clean Power Generation". Hear about a zero emission microgrid in an ecovillage near Silicon Valley and new off grid energy storage from the UK, US, Germany, France and Austria.
Dr Rolf Luchsinger of an AWE leader TwingTec of Switzerland adds, "No one doubts anymore that the energy transition will happen. What does that mean for TwingTec? First, I shall explain how our focus on the off-grid market means we are fully lined up with the much discussed 4D energy strategy: decarbonisation, decentralisation, democratisation and digitalisation. Our initial focus on the off-grid market makes total sense. Secondly, floating wind energy systems as our TT2500 product concept will be needed soon. Opening up the water surface for wind energy will be key to provide the power to the fast-growing population in coastal areas. Last but not least: The business is eager to see these energy drones on the market!"
Like the perovskite photovoltaics covered at the event, AWE is commercialising this year onwards, with the speakers revealing a variety of launch dates and capabilities. It is certainly the right time for this unmissable conference. Find out more and register at

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Posted on: March 22, 2018

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