Technology

An end to power cuts

Print edition : April 03, 2015

In Gudalur, Nilgiris district, one of the 20 houses that are part of the pilot project for providing 24×7 access to electricity. Photo: Special Arrangement

Appliances at the Electrical Engineering Department of IIT Madras run on direct current.

Figure 1: Solar photovoltaic gives direct current which has to be converted to alternating current to power the loads. A battery stores only DC and requires an AC-DC converter for charging and a DC-AC converter for discharging.

Figure 2: Schematic of IIT-M off-grid home deployment. The system has two output lines: a main solar DC line and an emergency output line. When the grid has long blackouts and there is no significant solar output as well, the main line is cut off below a certain depth of discharge of the battery. Then, the emergency DC line, which can power a couple of devices, can be used for long hours even when the battery is low.

Figure 3: The grid supplies power on two lines. The existing AC line supplies unlimited power, but is cut off during brown-out. The new DC line supplies limited power, but stays on during both normal and brown-out states.​

The brown-out technology has undergone extensive testing and trials at IIT-M, and was validated successfully at Madhuranthakam near Chennai in December 2014. As many as 281 homes were covered and they remained lit even when the rest of the area had extended power cuts.

Researchers at IIT Madras come up with an innovative solution to link decentralised solar-based DC power to grid-based AC power which has the potential to provide 24×7 access to electricity in homes and put an an end to power cuts.
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