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Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)

Seamless solar PV integration in Moroccan buildings

PI: Mounir Ghogho (, International University of Rabat
U.S. Partner: Paul Flikkema, Northern Arizona University
Project Dates: December 2016 - May 2020

Project Overview:

A high density of installed photovoltaic (PV) systems poses grid integration challenges. Excessive ramps and peaks of the injected PV power into low-voltage grids are some of the most important challenges that may destabilize the grid and even cause blackouts. The penetration of PV in buildings in Morocco is still very low. The potential for roof-mounted PV power generation in Morocco has been estimated to each 10TWh, representing 40% of the country's total electricity consumption. Despite this high potential, there are two main obstacles to the uptake of PV in buildings, the first being the capital investment cost, as no financial incentives are offered yet by the government, and the second being the conservative attitude of the national electricity utility company toward PV injection in the low-voltage grid.

To optimally design a battery-supported PV system, realistic household load profiles in Morocco must be used. The general objectives of this project are (1) to build a statistically significant dataset of household electricity consumption profiles in Morocco and make it available as open data to the scientific community; (2) to analyze the data using machine learning to assess and classify power quality at the household level; and (3) to develop scientific tools to investigate issues of sizing and operation of residential battery-supported PV systems in Moroccan settings from both the energetic and economic perspectives. Forecast-based control mechanisms will be devised for different scenarios. The results of the project should be of interest to the Moroccan Ministry of Energy and the national electric utility company. The International University of Rabat encourages through its technology transfer unit joint ventures with industry to turn research results into commercial products. The research team will explore this avenue at the end of the project. Overall, through their planned open data platform and outreach activities, the project team aims to contribute to the promotion of clean energy adoption in buildings and the modernization of the Moroccan electric grid.

Summary of Recent Events

During this reporting period, the PEER team completed the development of an integrated system for monitoring and processing of premises’ electricity consumption. Taking advantage of NI hardware and software solutions, as well as other hardware components, this system is able to perform high frequency acquisitions and processing of voltage and current waveforms in residential and industrial settings through a non intrusive fashion in premises’ mains. One of its main features is its customizability to suit user’s choices and particular needs, as well as its flexibility to add new capabilities and hardware modules.

The PI and his team developed two versions of the monitoring system. One for monophasic systems and the other for thriphasic systems. Both versions have been tested and validated experimentally. They have now initiated the measurement campaign using this systems which will provide them with high quality measurements. In addition, they are also in the process of acquiring a significant number of cheaper acquisition systems (EmonPi, which will allow them to measure the electricity consumption at large scale (although with lower quality measurements with respect to the system they have developed).

Due to their high reliability and high quality of measurements the systems that they have developed will be used to perform a longitudinal study of the electricity consumption, i.e., each system will be deployed continuously in the same place during the whole measurement campaign. This longitudinal study will allow them to better understand the temporal correlations occurring in the electricity consumption. Then numerous and cheap acquisition systems that we are in the process of acquiring will be used to
perform a transversal study, i.e., the location of the acquisition systems will be changed various times during the duration of the acquisition campaign. This study will allow to obtain reliable information regarding the
first order statistics of the electricity consumption, due to their large number and despite the lower quality of the measurements.

They have already performed various preliminary short measurement campaigns using their measurement systems. Currently they are starting a long duration longitudinal study deploying their monophasic and thriphasic measurement systems.

Through meetings with government agencies such as IRESEN, the local team has been promoting the use of battery-backed PV solar systems in urban areas of Morocco. Avenues for collaboration between the local team and other stakeholders have been identified.
In addition, FERAMO,  a private consultancy company working in the sector of renewable energy, and the PEER team have been discussing ways of collaborating with them. FERAMO has an in-depth understanding of the financial challenges that face the adoption of renewable energy solutions in Morocco.

Lastly, they are in the process of filing a patent on the developed PV system monitoring. Once the patent has been filed, they will investigate commercialization opportunities with the university's Technology Transfer unit.

In the next 3-6 months, the team will be working on improvement of their energy management system algorithm, completion of the PV system simulator, design and implementation of DC-DC converters and inverters. they will also hold a workshop on smart grid and solar PV energy.

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