GE Ecomagination: Mera Gao Micro Grid Power

You’ve heard of micro-finance for developing countries–now, meet the micro-grid. Mera Gao (“My Village” in Hindi) Micro Grid Power (MGP) provides solar power to rural communities with a unique combination of distributed solar panels, battery banks, low-voltage distribution, and super-efficient LED lights.

This community-based solar power scheme works, first, by installing photovoltaic solar panels sufficient to power the village–for a village of 100 households, for example, approximately 600 watt peak capacity of solar panels would be installed on the rooftops of one or two homes. Power generated during the day is then routed to two battery banks (one for each array), so when the sun goes down, this power can be routed via low-voltage transmission lines over the short distance necessary to bring light to two to four LED lamps in each household.

Micro Grid Power

image via Mera Ghao Micro Grid Power

The combination of short transmission distances coupled with super-efficient lighting allows the Micro Grid Power solar power system to provide a minimum 15 percent return on investment, (and reportedly can actually produce profits of 30 percent or more), all while providing power at a low cost to households.

This system is one of the contenders in GE’s Ecomagination Challenge this year, which is focused on powering the homes of the future–you can vote your support for Micro Grid Power in this year’s competition online.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.