Micro-grid innovations for sustainable communities

asu-lightworks-microgridsReliable access to electricity is widely regarded as a keystone to overcoming poverty. Micro-grids are localized energy grids that can be used to provide reliable, safe, and low-cost power to 1.4 billion people lacking access today. The micro-grids research team lead by Nathan Johnson has developed a suite of solutions for off-grid power applications that accommodate residential, commercial and industrial sectors. Additional work by the group includes exploration of solar thermal applications and direct current power architectures. All projects leverage public-private partnerships to drive energy innovations from concept to construction. On-site deployment, testing and scale-up of technologies are completed in conjunction with NGOs or entrepreneurs to spur local business development. ASU research facilities, including a Microgrid Testbed and a Sustainable Communities Living Laboratory, offer a unique research space to explore the confluence of engineering, culture, social norms and environmental constraints, under both simulated and realistic conditions that mimic life and challenges in developing countries. Micro-grid technology projects are containerized micro-grids to deploy for disaster relief – as in Haiti – and stabilizing development in areas with a weak grid. The micro-grid concentrates solar power-based micro-grid platforms to provide a reliable, low-cost power for manufacturing and commercial development – like in instance of sub-Saharan Africa economic development. In addition, open-source universal charge controller for that permits the phased expansion of power system architectures to reach 50 million people with power from micro-utilities –like in Nepal and Cameroon.