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An analysis of the environmental impacts of biomass application in hybrid microgrids in South Africa
In Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), there are several challenges that hinder development. One of these challenges is access to electricity. There are numerous benefits to having access to reliable electricity. These include less time spent fetching water from rivers and dams, as water purification systems for households could be used in villages; children in villages would be able to spend more time doing their schoolwork and not fetching wood for fire; and automated irrigation systems could be used for villagers to farm and make an income. Finding alternative ways to generate electricity would enable access to electricity for regions that currently do not have the electricity. This means that large organisations need to find alternative ways of generating electricity, as they have the means to do so. With the current renewable energy technologies available, there are now more ways in which electricity could be generated. The use of biomass is no exception to this. With constant developments in the renewable energy sector, waste-to-energy (WtE) is proving to be a viable method to generate electricity. The main aim of this research was to determine if a commercial food retailing organisation could use their food waste for generating electricity for their own use to reduce their demand from the central grid. A way of determining the viability of this type of technology is using a software that simulates renewable energy projects. In this research, an organisation was contacted for waste data. Systems for two of the stores will be simulated and results will be discussed. The organisation will remain anonymous. The software used in this research is System Advisor Model (SAM), which was developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in the United States. In the results, three results were discussed. These are the monthly energy, monthly heat rate and the monthly boiler efficiency for each of the stores for Store 1, the annual energy simulated was 138,509 kWh and 131,677 kWh for Store 2. Monthly energy averages for each store were 11,542 kWh for Store 1 and 10,973 kWh for Store 2, respectively. There are several opportunities for research based on the findings. These include researching other food sectors in the study; conducting a financial analysis of small-scale WtE systems; constructing a prototype of the system; and using three different softwares to simulate a system for the same project.