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A systems engineering approach to community microgrid electrification and sustainable development in Papua New Guinea




Anderson, Alexander A., author
Suryanarayanan, Siddharth, advisor
Cale, James, committee member
Zimmerle, Dan, committee member
Chen, Suren, committee member

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Electrification of remote communities worldwide represents a key necessity for sustainable development and advancement of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With over 1 billion people still lacking access to electricity, finding new methods to provide safe, clean, reliable, and affordable energy to off-grid communities represents an increasingly dynamic area of research. However, traditional approaches to power system design focused exclusively on traditional metrics of cost and reliability do not provide a sufficiently broad view of the profound impact of electrification. Installation of a single microgrid is a life-changing experience for thousands of people, including both residents who receive direct electricity service and numerous others who benefit from better education, new economic opportunities, incidental job creation, and other critical infrastructure systems enabled by electricity. Moreover, an electrification microgrid must directly satisfy community needs, be sensitive to local environmental constraints, mitigate possible risks, and plan for at least a decade of sustainable operations and maintenance. These considerations extend beyond the technical and optimization problems typically addressed in microgrid design. An enterprise system-of-systems framework for microgrid planning considering technical, economic, environmental, and social criteria is developed in response to the need for a comprehensive methodology for planning of community electrification projects. This framework spans the entire systems engineering discipline and incorporates elements from project management, risk management, enterprise architecture, numerical optimization, and multi-criteria decision-making, and sustainable development theory. To support the creation of the systems engineering framework, a comprehensive survey of multi-objective optimization formulations for planning and dispatch of islanded microgrids was conducted to form a baseline for further discussion. This survey identifies that all optimizations studies of islanded microgrids are based on formulations selecting a combination of 16 possible objective functions, 14 constraints, and 13 control variables. A sufficient group of decision-making elicitees are formed from the group of nearly 250 publications surveyed to create a comprehensive optimization framework based on technical, economic, environmental, and social attributes of islanded microgrids. This baseline enables the formulation of a flexible, computationally lightweight methodology for microgrid planning in consideration of multiple conflicting objectives using the simple multi-attribute ranking technique exploiting ranks (SMARTER). Simultaneously, the identified technical, economic, environmental, and social decision criteria form a network of functional, operational, and performance requirements in an enterprise system-of-systems structure that considers all stakeholders and actors in the development of community electrification microgrids. This framework considers community capacity building and sustainable development theory as a hierarchical structure, where each layer of the hierarchy is mapped both to a set of organizational, financial, and physical subsystems and to a corresponding subset of the 17 SDGs. The structure presents the opportunity not only to integrate classical project management and risk management tools, but also to create a new lifecycle for planning, funding, executing, and monitoring multi-phase community infrastructure projects. Throughout the research, a case study of the Madan Community in Jiwaka Province, Papua New Guinea is used to demonstrate the systems engineering concepts and tools developed by the research. The community is the center of multi-phase community capacity building project addressing critical needs of the deep rural community, including electricity, education, water, sanitation, healthcare, and economic opportunities. The researcher has been involved as a pro-bono consultant for the project since 2013 and helped raise over $1M USD in infrastructure materials, equipment, and consulting. The structure of the community-based organization and numerical optimization of a series of islanded microgrids are used to illustrate both the system-of-systems hierarchy and microgrid planning techniques based on both single-objective optimization using linear programming and the SMARTER methodology for consideration of multiple qualitative and quantitative decision criteria.


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