Comparison of load profiles in a mini-grid: Assessment of performance metrics using measured and interview-based data
Journal article, 2018
Mini-grids are seen as an important option for increasing access to electricity in non-electrified rural areas where grid-extension is unfeasible. Appropriately dimensioning and constructing mini-grids requires knowledge of electricity usage. There is currently a lack of measured load profiles from mini-grids and the most common method for estimating electricity usage is through appliance data collected via interviews. Thus, this paper compares and investigates the differences between measured daily load profiles and daily load profiles created from appliance data collected through interviews and how the two methods impact the dimensioning and operation of a mini-grid. This is done by comparing load profiles for an entire mini-grid, a household and SME customers with large loads. The paper reports differing results from the two methodologies. Generally, the results show that the interview-based load profiles fail to provide an accurate overall estimate. The calculated performance metrics for the two methods also shows large differences. The interview-based load profiles mainly fail to provide accurate estimates of energy and the energy related (capacity factor and load factor) performance metrics. Accordingly, the implications for mini-grid operators and developers could be significant. The interview-based load profiles indicate the mini-grid system to be considerably less technically and economically desirable than measurements show. Suggestions for how the interview process can be improved are presented.