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Conlog meters used in fuel cell project

December 2014 News

Conlog has announced that it will be partnering in the world’s first fuel cell rural electrification project, located in South Africa’s Free State province. It will supply its advanced metering infrastructure system, Iridium, as well as wireless meters to the project being piloted at a small rural community near Kroonstad.

The village, situated 40 kilometres from the national grid, does not have access to electrical power and was identified by the country’s Department of Energy as a suitable pilot site for the new fuel cell project, which aims to supply rural communities with electricity independent of an existing energy grid.

According to Ashveer Surujdeen, project manager at Conlog, fuel cell technology offers an efficient, low-carbon, low-noise alternative to diesel generators. “Fuel cells can also produce electricity whenever the demand exists. Importantly, fuel cell power is safe and healthy compared to hazardous wood fires or paraffin stoves, and can improve rural lifestyles by reducing food waste through refrigeration and eliminating the use of candles for lighting,” he adds.

The Naledi Trust fuel cell system consists of three platinum-based, five kilowatt fuel cell stacks, each with a methanol reformer. The system is integrated into a power generation system that includes batteries, DC/AC inverters and controls. “The fuel cell system will supply the Naledi Trust households through an independent mini grid with sufficient power to use TVs, radios, lighting, refrigerators, cooking appliances and mobile phone chargers,” says Surujdeen.

He points out that Conlog’s Iridium data management system benefits the project as it is a virtual application that provides real-time information about energy consumption. Iridium comprises two distinct functional areas: the front end components that are responsible for the collection, storage and communication of data from the metering devices; and the head end components that retrieve and manage this data.

Data is communicated wirelessly to and from the meter via data concentrator units (DCUs) connected to a suite of management tools at the head-end. The DCU is an integral link between the front and head-end system and is responsible for the routine collection, storage and communication of metering data.

“Approximately 20 000 schools and clinics in remote rural areas lack electrification due to the significant cost of extending existing grid power. Also, the market for fuel cell power generation extends far beyond the borders of our country, with an estimated 82 million households in Africa still without electricity,” concludes Surujdeen. “Fuel cell mini-grid technology is a cost-competitive alternative to grid electrification in these remote areas and could accelerate access to electricity.”

For more information contact Ntombi Mhangwani, Schneider Electric South Africa, +27 (0)11 254 6400, ntombi.mhangwani@schneider-electric.com, www.schneider-electric.com



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