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CIGRE SC-C6 (COLL 2007).

Contributor: V V Thong (1)
Topic: Instructions


V V Thong, J Driesen, R Belmans, K.U. Leuven, Belgium.
The contribution of electric energy in the civilization
and modernization process is undeniable. However, the
people in rural and remote areas are the ones who can
get the benefits from electricity access and economic
achievements very late. Rural electrification is an
essential element for the development in these areas. It
can play an important role in helping local people to
improve their living standards and to reduce poverty.
Rural electrification processes are carrying out in many
developing and under-developed countries with the
help from developed countries or from the
governments through loan incentives or subsidy
In spite of many efforts, not many people in the rural
areas can access to the electricity network. For
example, only 70% of rural households, with 80% of
Vietnamese population living in rural areas, are served
by electricity networks. Many communities and
villages in remote and high areas are not reached by
power networks. A majority of these people living
there are very poor with an income less than 1 US$ per
day, with low living standards, limited education and
little access to information. Small hydro offers today
one of the most promising energy resources for long
term sustainable development of these rural areas.
Currently, only a small proportion (less than 10% out
of 2000 MW potential) of the small hydro potential is
exploited. Therefore, studying the development of
small hydro and other renewable energy sources,
leading to more investments is an urgent requirement.
In the last decades, with economical and environmental
incentives and technology innovations, small-scale
generation connected to the local distribution systems
or standalone installations are increasing rapidly,
commonly referred to as Distributed Generation
(DG) [1]. It gives users the opportunity to fill in part of
the local demand often using locally available
sustainable resources. Many of households were
sparsely living in remote regions where grid extension
is too costly, sometimes impossible to reach. In this
context, provision of electricity to them by using
standalone, small-scale DG technologies such as solar
photovoltaic and wind generator could be a costeffective solution [2], [3].
DG offers a great value, as it provides a flexible way to
choose from a wide range of combinations of cost and
reliability with short construction periods. The
implementation of DG helps to diversify the primary
energy supply. According to the World Alliance for
Decentralized Energy (WADE) the overall share of
distributed energy in global power generation was

7.2% in 2004, and its goal is to double the market

share, 14% by 2012 [3].
This paper aims to provide an idea how to use
distributed generation, technical and economical
concerns to fasten rural electrification processes. Grid
connection or micro-grid (standalone) options are also



DG can be powered by renewable or non-renewable

energy sources, using both modern and conventional
technologies. The different DG technologies, including
storage systems, can be divided through the primary
resource used:
- Fossil-fuel based DG: gas engine, gas turbine,
Stirling engine, fuel cell;
- Non-fossil-fuel based DG: wind turbine,
photovoltaic, biomass (biogas), small hydro,
geothermal, tidal, wave;
- Storage system: battery, flywheel, super-capacitor,
superconducting coil, etc.
Only solar, wind and biomass resources are abundant
and mostly available in many rural areas in the
Southeast Asia. Geothermal and small hydro sources
are available at some particular locations. Tidal, wave
energy is not applied for the rural electrification
process. Many small hydro projects are successful in
mountainous areas. Most of them are run-off-river
modes without or with small dams. The electricity
availability depends on the water flow and the raining
- Users hosting local generation do not have the full
technical capability to participate in the energy market
and grid support yet;
- PV systems are connected next to loads having cycles
entirely uncorrelated with the solar cycle. The
generation profiles do not follow local load profiles,
causing unbalance in generation/demand. Extra sources
to compensate like storage systems are needed;
- In remote areas the communication infrastructure is
weak. An autonomous and simple control scheme is
- The electrical power system serves normally poor
people with low consumption demand;
- Maintenance is limited due to unavailable spare
equipment nearby;
- The system operators have limited abilities and may
not be well trained compared to ones working with
large power systems.

Standalone and grid-connected options

- Grid-connected options: helping local people better
off their income and creating jobs through the use of
local resources and residual products.
- Standalone options: is done where the national grid
cannot reach to. A hybrid generation seems to be a
good solution.
For remote applications, where the electric power
system cannot reach due to economic reasons, a microgrid or a standalone option is a good choice. However,
how to develop this protocol in an economic, efficient,
reliable and simple way is still challenging.
Local and autonomous control without any
communication is recommended. The control of
voltage and frequency follows droop characteristics
with a preset setting so that the system voltages and
frequency are maintained within acceptable operating
ranges (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Non-linear voltage droop control with PV in

standalone operation [4]
Hybrid System
Due to non-continuous availability of many renewable
energy resources such as wind and solar, one
individual energy source cannot provide continuous
and reliable electricity demand. To increase reliability
and to reduce costs, a hybrid system is preferable.
Based on the available resources, economic
feasibilities and expected reliability, there are many
combinations for hybrid systems.

Load and


Storage system

Figure 2: Hybrid system with storage compensation

- Voltage and frequency regulation: They have to be
maintained in acceptable ranges. Distribution systems
are designed to transfer electric energy from substation
to customers, i.e. from the sending end to the receiving
end, in unidirectional power flow. The system voltage
of a radial system generally decreases gradually from
the substation to the end of feeders, as most loads have
inductive characteristics. With the connection of DG to
the distribution system, this simple voltage
characteristic is not valid any more.
- Protection: faults on the grid, lightning (special
attention in rural and mountainous areas). Safe
operation and protection of the system are to be
guaranteed at all times. This is less simple than it

seems since the fault currents not only come from the
main grid in a unidirectional way, but also from DG
units (dispersed current sources), making the detection
far more complicated. Therefore, the conventional
hierarchical protection method needs to be revised.
- Safety: is concerning for both customers and system
operators. The grounding scheme of the DG
interconnection may not cause over-voltages exceeding
the rating of the equipment connected to the power
system and may not disrupt the coordination of the
ground fault protection on the power system
Provision of electricity to rural areas is considered
uneconomical by many utility companies, due to the
low consumption and poor load factors. In addition, the
cost per kWh generated by DG is still high. The rural
electrification process cannot develop fast without the
help from governments or non-government
organizations (NGO). There are several support modes
that can be used:
- Help from developed countries through development
funds (or Official Development Assistances funds) or
development program from international finance
organizations such as World Bank, ADB, etc;
- Taxation incentives or providing subsidies from
governments to users to reduce capital cost of the
- Green energy certificates functioning in a retail
portfolio obligation, grid access priorities or lowered
balancing costs;
- Consumer credit: users can obtain financing
assistance from financial institutions or local banks for
purchasing equipment and installation.
Rural electrification process plays an important role in
helping local people to improve their living standards
and incomes. However, this process has not covered all
the regions and reached to everyone yet. With the
introduction and deployments of DG, this may fasten
the electrification program and provide the rural people
extra solution to access electricity to better their quality
of life.
[1] T. Vu Van, Impact of distributed generation on power
system operation and control, PhD thesis, Katholieke
Universiteti Leuven, Leuven, May 2006.
[2] Nguyen Q.K.: Alternatives to grid extension for rural
electrification: Decentralized renewable energy
technologies in Vietnam, Energy Policy, Volume 35,
Issue 4, April 2007, pp. 2579-2589
[3] Vu Van T., Belmans R.: Distributed generation
overview: current status and challenges, International
Review of Electrical Engineering (IREE), Vol.1, Nr.1,
ISSN 1827-6600, March-April, 2006; pp. 178-189.
[4] De Brabandere K., Driesen J., Belmans R.: Control of
Microgrids, IEEE PES General Meeting, June 2007
(peer veriew)