01 October 2019
DHYBRID & Blockpower Supply Self-Sufficient Energy System for Luxury Lodge in Kruger National Park
Microgrid with Solar Power System and Battery Storage Ensures Stable and Environmentally Friendly Energy
The off-grid experts DHYBRID and Blockpower have implemented an environmentally friendly, independent renewable energy supply for the Cheetah Plains Lodge, located in the world-famous Kruger National Park in South Africa. The system comprises three solar plants with 895 photovoltaic modules in total and a one-megawatt hour lithium-ion battery storage system. A diesel generator which is also integrated into the microgrid is only utilized during low irradiation periods to support the storage system. DHYBRID’s Universal Power Platform (UPP) monitors and controls all the components in the system and therefore ensures a reliable energy supply at any time.
“We have partnered with some of the world’s pre-eminent minds in the renewable energy field to provide clean energy solutions that drive both our hospitality and safari experiences here at Cheetah Plains,” says Cheetah Plains proprietor Japie van Niekerk. In addition to the new and quiet energy supply, the lodge uses custom-engineered electric vehicles for its safaris. A separate gray water recycling system as well as a sewage treatment plant have also been installed on the property to minimize water consumption and environmental impact.
Smart Control of the On-Site Power Grid
In the interest of modernization, the lodge has been equipped with a microgrid — its own on-site power grid — which is capable of reliably supplying electricity even to large three-phase energy consumers such as cooling systems or motors. The available peak power capacity for the lodge has been increased by four times to 250 kW since it switched over to the microgrid from its previous energy supplier, the local public utility ESKOM.
“The new energy system doesn’t just increase security of supply; it also ensures grid quality. Moreover, carbon emissions and noise pollution are both decreased,” DHYBRID CEO Benedikt Böhm reports.
For many kinds of technical equipment, good grid quality is indispensable; for others, it extends their lifespan. This quality is reflected in the stable line voltage and frequency which the Universal Power Platform (UPP) from DHYBRID guarantees. The system continuously monitors all the important grid parameters and facilitates automated operation. In order to reduce operating costs along with carbon emissions, the system controls the connected energy generators and energy storage in a way to maximize the utilization of renewable energy. Additionally, the UPP guarantees high security of supply without disruptions.
Energy Generators Can Be Used Simultaneously
Unlike traditional independent microgrids where either the diesel generator or the solar installation can be run at a given time, the UPP can control different energy generators simultaneously. This makes the entire system noticeably more efficient, meaning that the diesel generator only needs to be switched on when energy consumption is unusually high or in periods of bad weather. This reduces fuel consumption, noise pollution, and the impact on the environment while extending the generator’s lifespan.
Technical Specifications of the Installation
The new electricity supply offers a three-phase power output and comprises three solar installations with a total capacity of 300 kWp — a 160-kWp roof installation, a total of 100 kWp mounted on carports, and 40 kWp on dual-axis trackers. A total of six 60-kW string inverters is used in the installation.
The grid-forming, bi-directional battery inverter with a power output of 250 kW is supplied by the lithium-ion storage system, which comprises Samsung SDI cells and offers a capacity of 1,027 kWh. Both components are housed in an air-conditioned 20-foot ocean container which was designed and built by Blockpower and DHYBRID in accordance with international standards.
The diesel generator has a power output of 150 kVA and can be remotely controlled. Real-time monitoring and remote grid maintenance occur via VPN using a SCADA system developed by DHYBRID. Additionally, the DHYBRID UPP offers access to historical data via the DHYBRID web portal.
Background information and infographics on the installation’s exact function can be downloaded here.
Please click on a picture for a high resolution download.