If you are not familiar with the state of electrification in the developing world, the Practical Action “Grid Connection” Technical Brief gives a great overview of what the barriers to connection are. Here are some highlights of the brief:
“[Electricity] is the preferred method of supplying power for many household applications, especially lighting, but connection to the national electrical grid is a rare occurrence in rural areas of the developing and under developed world. In the majority of the worlds’ poorer countries it is estimated that significantly less than 5% of the rural population are connected to the national grid.”
“In urban areas of the developing world grid connection is commonplace.”
These sentences above really synthesize the rationale behind The Microformer idea.
Practical Action sees two answers to the barriers encountered in rural electrification: 1) stand-alone generation, and 2) local electrification networks (small or ‘micro’-grids). In addition, the brief discusses electrical loads that become available when electrification is accomplished, including: lighting, TV, radio, water heating, cooking, refrigeration, sewing, water pumping, irrigation, agricultural processing, and electrical connection to small workshops.
Practical Action also focuses on how to keep grid connection costs to a minimum. They focus on: 1) Load limited supply, 2) Smaller cables and poles – from limited loads, 3) Pre-Fab wiring systems, 4) Credit, 5) Community Involvement. Practical Action takes the comprehensive view when looking at the barriers present in rural electrification. We feel the Microformer can add value to this discuss, providing a DIY electricity transmission system that is low-cost and efficient (at ~2kV).