Impact of new electric cooking appliances on the low voltage distribution network and off-grid solar microgrids

Soltowski, Bartosz and Galloway, Stuart and Coley, Will and Strachan, Scott (2020) Impact of new electric cooking appliances on the low voltage distribution network and off-grid solar microgrids. University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

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Over three billion people around the world rely on biomass as their primary source of cooking fuel, a practise which is particularly prevalent across countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Developing Asia, and Latin America. Cooking with biomass has significant negative health impacts, due to the toxic fumes produced which are estimated to cause over four million premature deaths annually. In addition, it negatively impacts the environment, through contributing to deforestation and climate change, which is exacerbated by increasing demand for biomass due to rapid population growth in these regions. Women and girls are disproportionately affected by these impacts as they are often responsible for cooking and the collection of cooking fuels. Increased adoption of electricity as a replacement for biomass as a source of cooking energy is one potential solution to reduce these negative environmental and social impacts. The studies presented in this report identify the main technical challenges associated with accommodating electric cooking on microgrids and low voltage (LV) distribution networks in sub-Saharan Africa. Evidence and experience has shown that the adoption of electric cooking appliances can already be supported by some networks without the need for any upgrades in the system. This is primarily within networks which have been overdesigned relative to existing electrical demand and as a result, sufficient headroom to adopt clean electric cooking appliances exists. Simultaneously, where system designs more closely match baseload (non-cooking) characteristics, limitations may occur when supporting the addition of electric cooking loads. Identifying these limitations has been the subject of investigations in this report. The technical analysis was primarily supported by models developed in OpenDSS. Load flows, voltage profiles and transformer/power inverter requirements were modelled to investigate the performance of representative LV and microgrid network topologies before and after the introduction of loads from different sized electric cooking devices. This research was conducted as a part of the MECS (Modern Energy Cooking Solution) consortium.