Power to the People

By Danielle Pope

Power to the People
A Victorian PhD student has developed technology that could help bring power to the people.

A micro-grid system that could potentially provide power to the world’s most remote communities has been designed by a Victoria University of Wellington student, who was inspired by the situation in his home country of Nigeria.

Daniel Akinyele graduated earlier this month with a PhD in Engineering –  the first from Victoria’s recently established Smart Power and Renewable Energy Research Group in the School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Akinyele’s research examined new energy systems for small communities that are not connected to a central power grid, and which rely largely on petrol powered generators as a power source. He focused on developing solar photovoltaic micro-grids which capture energy from the sun and turn it into electricity.

Akinyele explained that his micro-grid design is basically a smaller version of a big electricity grid. “Instead of waiting for the government to extend the main electricity grid to remote communities, which is usually not economically feasible… I wanted to create a customisable energy system”, he said, “This could be installed on site and would ensure these societies could meet their daily energy demands.”

Akinyele used his home country of Nigeria as a case study for his research, “I’m from Nigeria and was aware of its current electricity situation, so I wanted to use my knowledge to help address the energy challenge in my country” he said.

The beauty of Akinyele’s research is that it has the capacity to be adopted to any setting, including remote areas in New Zealand and those areas cut off by earthquakes. He is currently researching how best to bring his technology to remote Maori communities in New Zealand.



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