A very diverse mix of projects from all over the world made up the 13 finalists of Intersolar Europes Outstanding Solar Projects. Only five of those went away as winners, with social impact seemingly playing the biggest role amongst the jury.
Solar power for an Indian Village
Jackson Engineers Unlimited was the first of the five winners, for its Solar Powered Village Electrification in Baripatha, India. The power solution provider developed a solar-powered village, with both central and individual solar units, for 61 households to enjoy.
The practical systems are looked after by the local villagers, who clean the panels themselves, and can pack them up in minutes in case of dangerous weather. Enough energy is provided by the PV arrays to power two lighting systems per household, which reduces pollution and the communitys reliance on kerosene.
Micro-grid working both ways
The second company to pick up an award was ME SOLshare for its peer-to-peer smart village grid in Shariatpur, Bangladesh. It is the worlds first peer-to-peer electricity trading network that interconnects existing home solar systems, helping low-income, rural Bangladeshi families gain access to affordable electricity.
The ingenious micro-grid allows users to both buy and sell electricity, so those with a PV system can make some income, and those without have access to affordable electricity. The jury described this type of marketplace as a powerful concept and exciting, which surely nobody would disagree with, as it can be replicated in other villages to develop sustainable electricity grids.
Using the suns energy to keep us cool
Austrian solar engineering company S.O.L.I.D. was the third Intersolar winner, for its solar thermal cooling installation at Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale, Arizona, in the U.S. The system powers a single-effect lithium bromide adsorption chiller, with a cooling capacity of 1,750 KW, making it the largest solar cooling installation of its kind.
The cooling system has to battle temperatures of up to 43 degrees Celsius in the summer, but is more than capable of doing so, enabling the school to drastically reduce its CO2 output. It is also an educational tool for the students at the school, with a web-based flowchart that has live data.
Sustainable electricity with a huge social impact
Schneider Electric SE was another winner for a project in schools, but also in health centers in Lagos, Nigeria. This incredible project electrified 170 schools, with 190,000 students, and 11 public health centers, servicing 4.7 million patients, by providing solar systems combined with storage in a geographically-challenging area.
This project has an immense social impact, saving the schools and health centers a total of $1 million per year in diesel costs, and benefiting the community with over 3,000 jobs. The systems themselves draw upon ingenious technology, such as a plug and play communication gateway, to help suit them to the environment, and to be sure that they provide a stable supply of electricity in rurally isolated areas.
Keeping the Caribbean clean
The final winner was SMA Sunbelt Energy for its hybrid utility scale solar and storage project on St. Eustatius Island in the Caribbean. The impressive 1.89 MWp PV system and 1 MW battery storage system covers 23% of the islands energy demand, and is the first of its size in the Caribbean.
The project integrates much of the solar power into a diesel-power grid, which helps to reduce the islands dependency on diesel, and its CO2 emissions. While none of the technology is new, it is the combination of all of the different components, and the scale of the project, that earned it the prize.