A Comparative Assessment Of Hybrid Renewable Energy Systems For Sustainable Rural Electrification In Cameroon
Cameroon is blessed with a vast potential of renewable energy resources: solar, biomass, hydropower, wind and geothermal energies. These resources are currently poorly developed and valorised. The country depends mainly on hydropower (73.2% in 2014) for her electricity supply and traditional biomass (64.1% in 2015) for energy consumption. This dependence on a single energy source causes acute power shortage nationwide especially in remote communities where grid access is limited. Rural electrification is mainly conducted through costly grid extensions, small hydro systems and isolated diesel plants with enormous health and environmental effects. This study assesses the feasibilities of hybrid renewable power systems for remote applications in Cameroon using satellite derived datasets of meteorological parameters. Due to the diverse climatic variations in the country, three case studies from the three major climate zones of Cameroon are used and nine different hybrid system systems compared in each of the sites. HOMER is used to perform the comparative analysis. The overall result was classified using two major parameters: economics and sustainability; considering ten design parameters. Based on economics, PV/diesel/small hydro/battery, PV/diesel/small hydro/battery and PV/wind/diesel/small hydro/battery systems showed optimum performances in the West, Center-South, and Northern part of the country with respective cost of energy of 0.443 $/kWh, 0.526 $/kWh, 0.656 $/kWh. With regards to externalities and sustainability, PV/wind/small hydro/battery was the most feasible system all over the country with a cost of energy of $0.674/kWh, $0.677/kWh, $0.583/kW for West, Center-South, and Northern parts of Cameroon respectively. These systems are proven through sensitivity analysis to show very little changes in performances (resilient) to variations in stream flow, interest rate, fuel price and PV cost multiplier. Despite the relatively high cost of energy from these systems compared to grid power in Cameroon, the hybrid systems have proven to be suitable for remote and isolated applications for environmental, accessibility, vast omnipresent resource availability, ease of implementation, limited operation and maintenance reasons. Thus, these systems are highly valuable for Cameroon to improve her low rural energy access.