Gham Power: Solar Micro-Grids
Gham Power develops solar micro-grid and commercial off-grid systems in developing countries. Based in Nepal, it has deployed over 600 projects for large industries, small businesses, and hundreds of households. Gham Power focuses on developing projects that fits the pay-as-you-go models – rural micro-grids, commercial and industrial systems, and Productive End Use (PEU) systems. The Company has adopted a strategy of aggregating several small micro-grids into a single larger project to optimize time and resources in developing projects.
In early 2016, Gham Power inaugurated its first solar micro-grid project in three communities in the Okhaldhunga and Khotang districts in Nepal. Gham Power constructed three separate solar micro-grids with a total capacity of 35 kW, to power 32 local businesses and 83 households. Aggregating the small projects into one and through the innovative financing mix of private and community equity, local bank debt, and assistance from ADB and DOEN Foundation, contributed in making the project viable even if the sites were dispersed and remote. The success of the micro-grid prompted GSMA to provide additional support to expand the capacities of the micro-grids to be able to power two telecom towers.
Gham Power is improving its project aggregation platform that will facilitate design of off-grid projects using standard templates for technology design, financing structure, and running operations. This platform is envisioned to be extended to other project developers and EPCs to build large-size investment funds through the aggregation of standardized projects developed by multiple sources.
What problem are you trying to solve? Who has this problem?
Power supply and grid extension have been persisting concerns in Nepal. Seven (7) million people (24% of the country’s population) in Nepal live without power. Many remote and dispersed communities are not connected to the grid. Should they be connected, insufficiency in power generation does not guarantee reliable supply. Nepal’s electricity generation mix is dominated by hydropower, many of which were damaged during the 2015 earthquake. The lack of diversity in the generation mix contributes to persisting lack of power supply.
Kerosene and firewood remain to be the primary source of energy for many households in Nepal. Indoor pollution caused by constant burning of carbon-based fuels causes serious health effects that adds to the burden of the low – income households. Businesses, while most own diesel generators, are not immune from the problem and are burdened with increasing fuel costs and shortages. The stability of small businesses is affected hindering growth and livelihood opportunities for the local communities. Both households and businesses need a sustainable, reliable, and affordable source of energy that can displace kerosene and diesel.
Gham Power develops and constructs solar micro – grids in remote rural areas to provide electricity to consumers. Gham Power’s basic micro-grid design combines Productive End Use (PEU) loads, such as small businesses (dairy chillers, rice mills, small shops), with the smaller demand of households making the systems more commercially viable than networks intended solely for households.
A typical solar micro-grid system consists of PV modules, battery banks, and a control system. The design includes smart web-connected prepaid meters that enables remote and automated billing and payment collection. Consumers are charged a fixed monthly tariff for their electricity consumption. Gham Power ensures availability of technical support by training local full-time staff who will be in charge of operation and maintenance.
In its pilot solar micro-grid endeavor supported by ADB, Gham Power aggregated three micro-grids into a single project. By doing so, the conduct of project development activities are optimized leading to reduced transaction costs. Given that unelectrified communities in Nepal are in dispersed rural areas, Gham Power will continue its strategy of aggregating smaller micro-grids into a single project. In time, Gham Power will host a project aggregation platform that may be participated in by other developers of micro-grid projects.
Strong Community Relationship.
Gham Power shares ownership and opera...
Packaging several solar micro-grid pr...
Focus on Powering Productive End-Use Activities.
Anchor loads, such as mills and pumps...
Displacement of households’ use of kerosene, reducing indoor air pollution and mitigating health risks.
Uplifting quality of life by making electricity available 24 hours and enabling use of other types of appliances.
Development of local capabilities through strong community involvement.
Enhancement of local income and creation of livelihood opportunities by powering Productive End – Use Equipment/Activities.
Installation of grid-quality transmission lines permit integration of the off-grid mini-grid system into the national transmission grid as soon as the grid reaches the area.
Introduction of basic internet services allows the deployment of innovative technologies like remote monitoring and prepaid metering solutions, as well as creation of ICT-based small businesses.
Pranjal Poudel, Business Intelligence Officer
· renewable energy, project design, business development
Anjal Niraula, General Manager
· Off-grid solar, electrical and computer engineering
Asian Development Bank