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New IEC Specifications Address Rural Electrification

IEC press release

New York, Jan 25, 2006

A timely series of IEC Technical Specifications aimed at increasing the well-being of rural populations coincides with latest reports coming out of the December 2005 World Trade Organization talks in Hong Kong on improving the lot of farmers in developing countries.

The specifications are designed to help set up rural electrification projects in isolated locations where access to the national grid is often not available. Though not restricted exclusively to the farming community, it is usually acknowledged that agriculture is the main activity of most rural areas.

Rural electrification can be completed through connection to a national or regional electrification grid. But when grids are too far away (meaning they are too costly) or a community or farmers’ needs are too small to make grid access economically viable, the alternative is to operate off a range of autonomous power systems or sources.

Left to their own devices, end-users have ‘made do’ with a variety of clever systems – but ones that are often exposed and unsafe.

Now, and for the first time, the IEC 62257 series set out recommendations to help decision makers, project developers and end-users choose the right system for the right place; it also helps in the design of a system as well as offering recommendations to operate and maintain the system. As the subject is comparatively new and still under technical development, the publications have been written as a series of Technical Specifications rather than International Standards. Developed by Committee 82 in cooperation with several other technical committees, the series was derived from IEC-PAS (Publicly Available Specification) 62111, itself based on a document by EDF (Electricité de France).

The specifications serve as guides and their goal is to improve quality, safety and the sustainability of electrification systems.

The specifications offer a wide range of solutions: from photovoltaic systems for low-powered uses, but also small hydroturbines and wind turbines, to diesel generators and collective renewable energy systems such as small micropower stations for greater power demands.

Those who stand to benefit from them include project contractors and supervisors as well as installers. The systems under review concern renewable energy and hybrid systems with a.c. nominal voltage below 500 V, d.c. nominal voltage below 750 V and nominal power below 100 kVA.

The series is aimed at rural electrification in developing countries without being specific to those countries.

Published under the main title Recommendations for small renewable energy and hybrid systems for rural electrification the series currently comprises the following parts:

In addition, several new documents concerning the conception of PV arrays, the selection of batteries and battery management, micro grids, customer interface and indoor installations are under discussion and are due to be published within a few months.

ANSI Nanotechnology Standards Panel