After a year of development, the pilot system of an open source Electronic Load Controller (ELC) has been deployed in the indigenous people’s community of Gacab in The Philippines. The project was carried out as a collaboration between SIBAT and EWB-UK to expand SIBAT’s capacity to self-manufacture and maintain ELCs which can be utilized in many of their micro-hydro projects.
ELCs are used to balance the power generated by the micro-hydro system with the power demand of the consumers in order to maintain a good quality electrical supply, preventing damage to appliances and power generation equipment.
After an initial test deployment earlier in the year in April, unfortunately the system suffered a direct lightning strike which took both the generator and ELC offline, the unit was fault-diagnosed and repaired by SIBAT and EWB-UK engineers before being successfully re-installed alongside additional lightning protection for their whole micro-grid.
This process in itself shows the benefit of an open-source design as it gives local engineers the power to diagnose and repair the system with minimized cost and down-time. An online resource containing tutorials, schematics and software is currently under-development to accompany the project in the hope that others, particularly in the Hydro Empowerment Network, can benefit from, and contribute to further development of the design.