Autonomous power systems are systems that operate without any external source or without any human interference, these power systems work independently of the larger main power grid system and has the capability to generate, store, distribute and monitor power. These autonomous power systems are used in remote areas where the access to power grid is not possible or it is too expensive. These are also used where a stable power source is required, where grid power is unreliable due to frequent outages. Autonomous power systems uses different sources of energy like solar energy, wind energy, diesel or gas generators and sometimes more components to convert renewable or non-renewable energy to electrical energy which also decreases our reliance on fossil fuels.
These systems offer number of advantages which we will be discussing:
OFF GRID HOMES AND CABINS: These power systems are often used to produce electricity in remote areas to power lights, appliances and other electrical appliances where there is no connection to main power grid.
EMERGENCY BACKUP POWER: Uses as backup power not just in remote areas but also other places where there is a need of more power or a stable and reliable energy source, they are also used in hospitals or other emergency centers, used in homes or businesses where it is needed for a power source during a power outage.
REMOTE MONITORING: These systems also monitor the wildlife any natural habitats or a remote area by powering remote monitoring systems like security cameras, weather stations and so on.
STREET LIGHTING: These systems can power lighting systems in remote areas and provide reliable lighting.
TELECOMMUNICATIONS: In remote areas to provide means of stable and reliable communication autonomous power systems are sued to power cell towers, which ensure that communications remain intact in areas with no connection the main power grid system.
CHALLENGES FACED BY AUTONOMOUS POWER SYSTEMS:
FINANCES: The upfront cost of implementing an autonomous power system is very challenging, supporting the initial investment and the ongoing operation in remote areas will be challenging also with the limited resources it needs to operate.
DURABILITY: These systems have to withstand crazy weathers, extreme temperatures and so on. These systems should have a very durable system which allows them to stay intact during a natural hazard but designing a long lasting component that can stay long lasting and can easily withstand harsh environments without frequent change is a complex thing to do and is a challenge that is faced by autonomous power systems.
GRID INDEPENDENCE: It’s technically hard to make a whole system which works independently to the main power grid system which also generates and monitors its own production of electricity.
MAINTENANCE: These systems require daily checkups to see if the work is operating at a consistent pace, if the power generated is meeting demand of people, basically to ensure a reliable operation. The challenge itself lies in the maintenance of the system’s components, faults, malfunctions or performing repairing or the replacement of tools.
ENERGY STORAGE: Energy storage is also one of the uses offered by autonomous power systems but can also be very challenging in such a way when choosing the right type, capacity and efficiency of energy storage devices and also dealing with the charging and discharging of capacitors.
KNOWLEDGE: Designing autonomous power systems are challenge itself especially in remote areas where designing, implementing and maintaining complex systems is hard as it requires special professional care which can only be provided by experts.
VARIABLE ENERGY SOURCES: Autonomous power systems uses different energy sources for its energy production for example it uses solar energy or wind energy, the systems depends on these factors to generate its electricity and these sources can vary in the environment, these varying factors can affect the production of electricity greatly.
COMPLEXITY: Because the system involves the collaboration of different factors which includes the renewable energy sources, power electronic tools, power control systems, backup power, integration of these components and making sure that they operate with 100% efficiency is a thing which is hard to attain.
PUBLIC AWARENESS: For the implementation and the smooth running of autonomous power systems, the public and the users should be well aware of how these systems run, there may be misconceptions which should be cleared before the installation of such power systems, educating the public about their reliability is essential, making them aware of how these work without grid dependence and how this can provide them with stable connection for periods of time will be better to make the public understand this technology.
FLEXIBILITY: Making sure autonomous power systems stay advanced with the latest technology as well as making sure that the system meets the changing needs of load is a complex task.
These challenges have to be researched properly by collaborations of different experts like researches, scientists, engineers to be addressed properly as it becomes possible to overcome these challenges if we work upon some elements, factors being public awareness, technological advancements, continued research and development, by considering these challenges we will be able to see better autonomous power systems.