AI-driven, 24/7 Power Availability
Utilities globally face many of the same challenges; as societies push towards cheaper and more sustainable infrastructures, a high percentage of these efforts rely on renewables for energy generation. The drivers for this trend are varied and can be societal, regulatory, security or even economic. As more renewables are added to the grid, they further stress an electrical infrastructure which in many cases is near the end of it’s design life and unintended for the realities of today’s needs for transmission and distribution resiliency and efficiency.
To meet these challenges, progressive utilities are increasingly turning towards the concept of customer-sited integrated solar plus storage which can be aggregated and controlled remotely via software tools. In places where they are failing to do this, offtakers, innovators and investors are working together to do it themselves. There is such political pressure on national leaders across Africa that they are willing to cede leadership in grid management to the private sector.
This is where Asoba comes in.
The name Asoba means "flow" in Yoruba. Flow of electricity across the grid and into the devices, machinery, and tools we need in our daily lives. Flow of capital into the activities enabled by access to electricity. Flow is also the key to improved grid management with respect to availability. Networks of renewable distributed energy resources (DERs), particularly solar plants with battery storage, can be leveraged within a microgrid to dispatch power within a system based on immediate demand in conjunction with demand response programs.
Virtual Power Plants Drive Grid De
Virtual power plants (VPP) manage these networks of on-site generation and battery storage systems. Within the microgrid schema above, the VPP is the "controller" element. VPPs are software solutions that can perform detailed and automated load management, matching grid inputs with demand in real-time. This ensures that even when total demand exceeds local capacity, power needs of users can be met fully without the need for load shedding or blackouts.
The next evolution of Asoba's service across southern Africa is the connection of off-grid systems and energy storage systems we install into clean energy networks managed with our own virtual power plant software. While we prioritize clean energy, we are not dogmatic about it. Economic development means all hands on deck in terms of utilizing energy capacity - we intend to connect all sources together within our AI-driven VPP systems.
Our tool can be used to either simulate system load or connect to remote sensor, in either case as a way of identifying patterns for optimizing load within the clean energy network. The end result is a tool that grid operators can use to quickly determine where and when to ramp up/down dispatchable power resources in an effort to maintain 100% reliability to power consumers.
Microgrids and virtual power plants (VPPs) together can play a significant role in addressing the electricity challenges faced by industrial companies in South Africa. Here's how they can help address each problem area:
Microgrids, which are localized energy systems that can operate independently from the main grid, can provide a stable and reliable power supply for industrial companies. VPPs aggregate distributed energy resources (DERs) like solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries and manage them as a single, flexible power source. Both solutions can enhance energy reliability, reduce the impact of load shedding, and improve the overall resilience of the power system.
Microgrids and VPPs can integrate renewable energy sources and energy storage, allowing industrial companies to reduce their dependence on expensive grid-supplied electricity. Additionally, VPPs can participate in demand response programs, enabling companies to earn revenue by adjusting their electricity consumption in response to grid conditions, further reducing electricity costs.
By integrating various energy sources, such as solar, wind, and natural gas, microgrids and VPPs can help industrial companies diversify their energy mix and reduce their exposure to fluctuations in global coal prices and environmental concerns.
As microgrids and VPPs can operate independently from the main grid, they can offer industrial companies more control over their energy supply and reduce their vulnerability to regulatory and policy changes.
Microgrids and VPPs can incorporate advanced energy management systems that optimize energy consumption and generation in real-time, enhancing energy efficiency. Additionally, they can provide insights into energy usage patterns, enabling industrial companies to identify and address inefficiencies.
For a business, the combination of microgrid and virtual power plant represents control. Control over costs, control over power availability, and control over production. In enabling the transition to decentrlized grids, virtual power plants provide a real world use case of the positive potential of AI.