Smart Meters

Electrification Projects

There is a lack of off-grid, sustainable energy production and consumption in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) countries. Access to clean and affordable energy (S DG7) by means of setting-up local mini grids will give opportunities to increase agricultural efficiency and introducing powered techniques, improve food security and food safety, increase health and wellbeing, enhance education (to facilitate study in the evening). Next to this, the presence of electricity will reduce the drain of adolescents from rural communities.

Challenge

An energy prepaid payment system is a system that facilitates reliable prepaid payments for usage of energy. Within an off grid energy system, the function of a payment system is twofold. Towards the grid owner the payment system should be cheap, reliable, easy to use, low on maintenance and corrupt free. For the customer the system should allow for easy purchase of energy, clear overview of energy usage and reliable energy supply.

The problem with currently available prepaid payment systems has mainly to do with cost , reliability, ease of use and maintenance.

Current systems also have limitations with regards to flexibility and customization, to enable for example flexible pricing. Being able to have a flexible price for the electricity sold makes a big change to the business case of the mini grid solution. But to have a flexible price the system needs to customizable/programmable. And there also needs to be some feedback to the users of the system.

Current systems do not show the end user how much (or little) power they use, while showing this is the best way to have people saving energy. If the new meter could show the current power usage, this would contribute greatly to awareness of energy-saving solutions. (LED lights instead of glow bulbs!) Current systems often lack reliability and are sometimes not designed for SSA conditions. Known problems are software failures, non-constant energy use tracking, plastic casing degradation due to the sun, easy to bypass and poor support from suppliers.

The lifetime of current meters is often too short compared the lifetime of a project. This is directly linked to the meter reliability.

Goals

Develop an energy prepaid payment system that can be deployed in other EWB electrification projects.

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