The development of the society was supported by an easy access to energy and in particular to electricity. However, 1.2 billion people worldwide are yet to receive an electrical connection. Most of them live in rural areas and many are far from the grid or in hilly terrains. Renewable energy microgrids are a good alternative to grid extension in many cases. However, the rural communities often consist of households only, with an energy demand concentrated in the morning and at night, in the early hours. This increases the need for costly storage as renewable energy is either available during the day for solar, or distributed throughout the day for wind. Anchor customers are users such as schools, hospitals, small manufacturing units or GSM tower that consume energy throughout the day. They contribute to the local development and can be a source of steady income for the microgrid. This paper illustrates that by including such customers at the microgrid design stage, the average cost of energy can be reduced. Through microgrid design simulations, it is shown that when anchor customers represent around 30% of the load (load factor of 0.4), the cost of energy can be reduced by 22% for a microgrid powered by wind and solar energy and by 48% for a solar microgrid, compared to a village with less than 10% of anchor users (load factor 0.2). It is thus critical to include anchor customers at the microgrid design stage in order to provide affordable energy in rural areas.
Fabien Chidanand Robert, Sisodia, G. S., and Dr. Sundararaman Gopalan, “The critical role of anchor customers in rural microgrids, Impact of load factor on energy cost”, in 2017 International Conference on Computation of Power, Energy Information and Commuincation (ICCPEIC), Chennai, India, 2017.