Local knowledge will be key in developing a successful project

Hurdles for project development can be easily overcome if we work to understand local needs.

Jonas Trader from STRI, an independent consultancy working in the area of high voltage testing for renewable energy and micro grid projects, talks about his expectation of the microgrid project. STRI is the lead partner on the project, that includes 3 Swedish and 2 Indian project partners.

What is the focus of your company in this project?

The focus is mainly on smart grids but we are also working on smart technology that could replace the excessive use of diesel. In the Andaman islands, most commercial establishments and households are connected to the grid via diesel generators which they use through the night since there is an increasing load on the grid. There is frequent load shedding and so people switch to generators. Our project is therefore focussing on a micro grid that can then be scaled up to service more people.

What are the major challenges you’ve faced so far?

The challenge is to understand the local issues that are at play. The ground realities are very different from what one would understand otherwise. It is essential to work with the local people to bypass the hurdles to make the project successful. It is the locals that understand best what the Island needs and what the problems are, unless we collaborate with them we will be at a loss.

What is your strategy to do this?

We will first work with the hotels and then move to hospitals and industries. In the long run the plan is to replace the DC generators. The number of hotels is rapidly increasing and there needs to be a solution for the power shortage. Our technology and experience will be crucial in this respect.

We are working with three other companies who are giving us their technical inputs for the project. The aim is to develop a holistic plan that is viable not only technologically but also socially. The team will work together to develop a plan that is most beneficial to the people of the Andaman Island and is sustainable in the long term.

What is the timeline for the project?

We plan to complete the feasibility study in 2016 so the project can start in 2017. The size of the project is not very large it will be 100 to 200 kilowatts.