Sustainable Energy Dissertation

Compulsary For MSc YES
General
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Energy systems or services that serve the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their energy needs are more critical than at any other point in time. This sustainability target is usually met via two key components: renewable energy and/or energy efficiency. This research module, building on the project proposal developed in the first year under the SE 6314 – Sustainable Energy Solutions, requires an investigation and/or practical implementation of sustainable energy project under the supervision of an academic staff member. The research project has to be carried out fully in the second year of study, preferably with an accompanying industrial attachment, under either of the two optional tracks of thesis or capstone.  

Outcomes

  1. Carry out independent research and analysis in addressing or solving real-world sustainable energy problems
  2. Work with small teams, communities, companies, NGO’s or any other relevant entity in assimilating information and synthesizing innovative energy solutions, services, devices or products
  3. Articulate and disseminate research findings in various forums, including community gatherings, academic seminars, workshops or conferences
  4. Produce at least one technical report or paper for peer-review publication with policy recommendations

Tentative Topics

Undertake a techno-economic analysis/evaluation of a hybrid mini-grid system using HOMER software simulations and optimizations to design and determine the feasibility of an entirely renewable energy-based configuration using solar, wind and river flow rates data for the specified rural village.
Evaluate / assess the technical and financial viability of a hybrid mini-grid system using RETScreen Expert software simulations and optimizations for the specified rural village, identifying additional energy savings or production opportunities.
Development of a national energy balance interactive tool/system that can be populated with data to generate aggregated / disaggregated energy statistics (energy commodity accounts and energy balance) for bridging the gap in the energy information system, to support energy sector planning and analysis of national energy strategy.
Evaluation of future energy and electricity demand projections based on simulations using the Model for Analysis of Energy Demand software (MAED-D), built on medium to long-term scenarios of possible future paths for national energy / electricity systems
Use MESSAGE (Model for Energy Supply Strategy Alternatives and their General Environmental Impact) to formulate / design long-term energy supply strategies and evaluate / test energy policy options, analyzing the optimized energy supply mixes in terms of costs and environmental impacts, for supporting long range, strategic and sustainable planning for the energy sector
Understanding the upcoming generation, energy demand and even day-ahead prices is critical for operating electricity assets reliably and cost-effectively. Making use of the utility’s Nostradamus software to produce accurate day-ahead, week-ahead and month-ahead electricity forecasts, the project aims to illustrate the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of regional power pool trading versus fixed bilateral contracts.
Undertaking a systematic inspection of energy use and energy consumption of a site, building, system or organization with the objectives of establishing energy flows, identifying potential for energy efficiency improvements and reporting them to the user. For a systematic and continual improvement of energy performance, and energy management system should be developed to seek out new opportunities for energy saving (retrofits, renewable energy, etc.)
Use around 30 energy indicators for sustainable development to quantitatively assess, evaluate and monitor the national progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goal No. 7 (Access to affordable and clean energy for all by 2030), and come up with suggested strategies to accelerate the transition to SDG7.
Rural access to renewable energy and sustainable development in Lesotho 12. Information dissemination on climate change towards sustainable development in Lesotho
Is Renewable energy a suitable option for sustainability in Lesotho?/ is renewable energy a suitable national strategy for sustainability in Lesotho?
Supervisor: Dr. Al-Mas Sendegeya; Project Brief: Provision of electricity to rural communities is done through various means including, grid extension, stand-alone systems and centralised power supply through mini-grids with one or more generation options. The later is done to ensure optimal utilisation of resources and ensure reliability of supply. Mini-grids are becoming popular and are widely spread in the various parts of the world. There is a need to assess wider mini grid clustering and how these can be optimised in terms of operation, grid readiness, efficiency and resilience, both in isolated operation and as collaborative networks. The project will consider the study through modelling by securing input data to standard modelling tools such as HOMER. The student has to work with a local rural electrification agency to get data for the simulation. In the research the student should implement spatial and temporal strategies for selected case study mini-grids in Lesotho to provide optimised network solutions including how these can be clustered to deliver maximum uplift in terms of (i) network resilience whether these are working collaboratively or individually, (ii) cost benefit analysis and (iii) affordable energy access to users. In essence the work will initially aim to understand how the selected mini-grid networks can be clustered. Also to assess how this approach can change the national rural electrification strategy. Therefore the project: (1) to explore options to cluster mini-grids to form wider networks with greater stability and lower Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCOE); (2) will assess the utilisation of high stability mini-grids to support the near end of line utility network; and (3) to develop knowledge for understanding intermittent islanding operation of mini-grid networks and demand side management approaches to mini-grid network stability.
Supervisor: Dr Al-Mas Sendegeya; Project Brief: The high content of organic material in waste makes biogas technologies a potential solution for waste treatment in a food processing plant in urban area taking the city of Maseru as the case study. The concept is to consider viable technologies that can generate a renewable energy source and organic fertilizer that can provide several benefits. The objective of the proposed research is for the student to investigate the techno-economic feasibility of a small-scale biogas plant for treating organic waste from a food processing factory in Maseru. The student is expected to perform multi-criteria to identify suitable technology or technologies. Then investigate the amount of energy generated versus the quantity of organic waste used and the amount of fertilisers produced. The student will be required to carry out an economic analysis to assess and compare possible scenarios from the different arrangements. In this regard the student to evaluate economically by analysing the Net Present Value (NPV), Internal Rate of Return, Payback time, Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) and sensitivity analysis. Also in the research, the student will be required to estimate the emission savings against other options.
Supervisor: Dr Al-Mas Sendegeya; Project Brief: It should be noted that agriculture is among the largest employer in most countries especially in the developing countries in Africa. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, irrigation is among the measures that can improve yields, reduce vulnerability to changing rainfall patterns and enable multiple cropping practices. Though irrigation is considered as a practice to ensure food security, can generate incomes, provide jobs and drives rural development. The success of any irrigation scheme depends on the availability of sustainable energy service, i.e. energy is a key input for irrigation services. Solar PV powered irrigation schemes are widely becoming popular in different parts of the world, as solar technologies are becoming a viable option for both large and small-scale farmers. Solar PV powered irrigation schemes provide reliable and affordable energy, potentially reducing energy costs for irrigation. In rural areas where diesel fuel is expensive or where reliable access to the electricity grid is lacking, they can provide a relatively flexible and climate friendly alternative energy source. These systems can be used in large-scale irrigation systems as well as for decentralized, small-scale irrigation. The systems can easily replace fossil fueled irrigation schemes in most parts of the world. Despite the wide spread of solar PV powered irrigation schemes, there are pros and cons for these schemes. A study of these schemes should be carried out to establish the technical and non-technical issues with respect to specific case studies. In this project the student will be required to carry out an analysis giving the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of solar PV powered irrigation schemes with reference to Lesotho. As investment costs for solar powered irrigation systems (SPIS) are coming down and subsidy.
Supervisor: Dr Al-Mas Sendegeya; Project Brief: The potential for biogas production in various parts of Lesotho is easily justifiable. Biogas is a combustible gas mixture produced during the anaerobic digestion of organic matter in an anaerobic biogas digester. Anaerobic digestion has the advantage over aerobic treatment of a smaller emission of greenhouse gases. Therefore, biogas is a renewable green energy source. The technology of using fossil fueled e.g. diesel engines to operate on biogas is already proven possible in different parts of the world. The research considers the concept for the generation of electric power, using a biogas as a fuel in an electric power generating machine, wherein the biogas produced from biomass in a gas digester treated according to a scientifically proven process, may be directly charged to an electric power producing combustion turbine. The student has to investigate the treatment and degrading of waste before production of biogas during anaerobic digestion. The student will be required to investigate both the technical and economic feasibility of the generation of electricity by utilizing biogas from small scale digester as a renewable energy concept.
The national electricity sector has been liberalized since the inception of regulation in 2004, with increasing annual tariffs but virtually no private participation in generation to date. A strong possibility exist that some regulations or other policy instruments could unduly constrain consumer’s welfare and restrict potential producers by imposing rigid bureaucracy and unintended enforcement and compliance costs. A review of such policies and regulations, including estimated costs and benefits needs to be undertaken.
Electricity, due to it being currently not economic to store, has to be produced to match the demand or load curves on an hourly basis. MAED-EL software simulations will be used to construct and evaluate long-term demand curves and peak loads for future electricity supply planning
Supervisor: Dr Liphapang Khaba; - Candidate would use: o The open-source Delt3D model developed by Deltares, The Netherlands. o Derive the reservoir geometry for use in the Delft3D model from the pre- and post-impoundment bathymetry of the Metolong Dam reservoir, from large-scale topographic maps or captured through regular reservoir bathymetry surveys o Inflow and outflow record along with reservoir water-surface fluctuations o Carry out sediment load surveys upstream of the reservoir for use in the model to study turbidity currents dispersion patterns within the reservoir o Use wind direction and speed record from the NASA GES DISC for use in the model to determine wind influence in turbidity currents within the water body o Characterize the turbidity currents and their impact on water density as required in determination of kinetic energy of the outflow from the reservoir o Study the Dam architecture and investigate possible incorporation of a mini-turbine for hydropower generation
Supervisor: Dr Liphapang Khaba; Candidates would use: o The open-source GIS software (QGIS, MapWindowGIS, etc) to process remotely-sensed:  Topographic ASTER_GDEM data.  Surface for these rivers from the NASA GES DISC o Calculate and map monthly and annual kinetic energy and power along these rivers. o Associate this energy and power to basic rural community energy needs estimates (also to be compiled by the candidate) in these river valleys. Population data from BoS 2006 and 2016. o Relate challenges to sustainability of hydropower projects to environmental challenges, particularlly sedimentation citing examples of the defunct Khubelu and Tsoelike schemes.
Supervisor: Dr Liphapang Khaba; Candidates would use: o The open-source GIS software (QGIS, MapWindowGIS, etc) to process remotely-sensed:  Topographic ASTER_GDEM data.  Surface for these rivers from the NASA GES DISC o Calculate and map monthly and annual kinetic energy and power along these rivers. o Associate this energy and power to basic rural community energy needs estimates (also to be compiled by the candidate) in these river valleys. Population data from BoS 2006 and 2016. o Relate challenges to sustainability of hydropower projects to environmental challenges, particularlly sedimentation citing examples of the defunct Khubelu and Tsoelike schemes.
Supervisor: Dr Liphapang Khaba; Candidates would use: o The open-source GIS software (QGIS, MapWindowGIS, etc) to process remotely-sensed:  Topographic ASTER_GDEM data.  Surface for these rivers from the NASA GES DISC o Calculate and map monthly and annual kinetic energy and power along these rivers. o Associate this energy and power to basic rural community energy needs estimates (also to be compiled by the candidate) in these river valleys. Population data from BoS 2006 and 2016. o Relate challenges to sustainability of hydropower projects to environmental challenges, particularlly sedimentation citing examples of the defunct Khubelu and Tsoelike schemes.
Supervisor: Dr Liphapang Khaba; Candidates would use: o The open-source GIS software (QGIS, MapWindowGIS, etc) to process remotely-sensed:  Topographic ASTER_GDEM data.  Surface for these rivers from the NASA GES DISC o Calculate and map monthly and annual kinetic energy and power along these rivers. o Associate this energy and power to basic rural community energy needs estimates (also to be compiled by the candidate) in these river valleys. Population data from BoS 2006 and 2016. o Relate challenges to sustainability of hydropower projects to environmental challenges, particularly sedimentation citing examples of the defunct Khubelu and Tsoelike schemes.
Supervisor: Eng. Tawanda Hove; Description of study Students will be required to collect long-term measurement data of ground-measured solar insolation data from the meteorological services department. In addition, satellite-measured data for an equivalent period will be collected from online databases (e.g. SODA, www.sodais.com ). Clearness index values from both ground- and satellite-measured data will be computed. Correlation functions relating ground-truth solar data and satellite-measured data will be developed. These correlations will form the basis calibrating satellite-measured data (which is continuous in spatial coverage) to ground-truth basis. A correlation of the diffuse-ratio with clearness index need to be developed in order to estimate diffuse irradiation from global irradiation measurements. Then monthly maps of global irradiation, clearness index and diffuse irradiation will be constructed using appropriate geo-statistical interpolation software (e.g. Surfer 12). In addition, it is proposed to create an interactive Excel-based tool which is able to compute the data contained in the maps at any specified location in Lesotho. Required Resources a. Meteorological data (may have to be purchased) b. Geo-statistical interpolation software need to be purchased c. Digitized boundary map of Lesotho d. Computer with internet connection
Supervisor: Eng. Tawanda Hove; Description of study: Students will required to develop a thermal and economic model that is adequate for sizing, performance prediction and economic optimization of a solar hot water system. The model will be package in a computer based tool which enables quick analysis of solar water heater performance at any location with given meteorological resource data and for any given solar collector performance characteristics. In particular, the model will be integrated with the solar database for Lesotho in order to provide a tool for evaluating the energy and economic performance of solar hot water systems in the country. Required Resources: a. Meteorological database b. Computer with internet connection
Supervisor: Eng. Tawanda Hove; The project will involve modelling the energy flow in a photovoltaic-based off-grid power system comprising a PV array, battery bank, auxiliary generator and power conditioning equipment. This will enable the sizing of an off-grid power system achieving any desired energy supply reliability. Through a life-cycle cost analysis, the levelized cost of energy from a given power system design can be determined. This will lead to selection of the design with least cost of energy. Among other things, students will learn how to develop models for: 1. In-plane solar radiation available 2. Time-step PV generator output 3. Battery lifespan as a function of depth and rate of discharge 4. Auxiliary generator specific fuel consumption and lifespan as functions of load-ratio Required Resources: a. Meteorological database b. Computer with internet connection c. HOMER hybrid renewable energy system simulation software (https://www.homerenergy.com/ ) needs to be purchased for validation of the home-made program
Supervisor: Eng. Tawanda Hove; Solar water heaters have a potential to displace huge amounts of electricity, depending on the climatic conditions of a country; and their use can result in huge financial savings by their users, depending on the price of electricity. However, maximising these benefits requires that the solar water heating system be sized optimally. In this project, students will be required to develop a thermal and economic simulation model that will enable optimal sizing, performance prediction and economic analysis of solar hot systems under the climatic and economic conditions prevailing in Lesotho. A typical case study is the students’ residences at the National University of Lesotho. Required Resources: d. Meteorological database e. Computer with internet connection f. The F-CHART (http://www.fchart.com/fchart/) solar thermal system simulation software (https://www.homerenergy.com/ ) needs to be purchased for validation of the home-made program
Supervisor: Eng. Tawanda Hove; The tariff applied for any energy generation plant has to cover the lifetime costs of owning the generating plant (capital, operating & maintenance costs) as well as yielding a reasonable return on investment for the owner of the plant. This principle is equally applicable for solar PV electricity generation plants. It is the usual practice by Energy Regulating bodies throughout the world to set country-standard feed-in tariffs to be paid to investors for specific renewable energy generation plants. The setting of the appropriate tariff depends on the accurate estimation of the energy yield from the renewable energy plant, as well as the economic environment of the country in question. Since different locations have different renewable energy resource and have also different costs of setting up a renewable energy plant, the applicable tariff has to be differentiated by the Energy Regulator across location. This calls for professional scientific methods, which can inform the Energy Regulator to determine correct tariffs for different situations. This project will seek to determine the cost-reflective feed tariff for PV grid-integrated power generation in Lesotho, for efficiently designed and managed plants. It will also seek to investigate whether or not there is need to have a differentiated feed-in tariff for different locations in Lesotho. The industry-standard PV simulation software PVSyst has been identified as a feasible tool to use in carrying out this study. It may be instructive to produce spatial maps showing recommended PV tariffs for different locations in Lesotho. For the latter purpose, the geo-spatial interpolation and mapping software Surfer may be instrumental.
Supervisor: Eng. Tawanda Hove; One of the most promising energy policies that can effectively support the widespread adoption of solar power is Net-Metering or Net Energy Metering (NEM). Net metering allows electricity customers who wish to supply their own electricity from on-site generation to pay only for the net energy they obtain from the utility. NEM is primarily used for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at homes, institutions and commercial buildings. Since the output of a PV system may not perfectly match the on-site demand for electricity, a home or business with a PV system will export excess power to the electric grid at some times and import power from the grid at other times. The utilities bill customers only for the net electricity used during each billing period. Alternately, if a customer has produced more electricity than they have consumed, the credit for that net excess generation will be treated according to the NEM policy of the country or utility. Although Net-Metering can result in substantial cost reduction benefits to prosumers owning solar systems, it can threaten the financial viability of the electricity utility company and can result in non-participating electricity consumers subsidizing the consumers who own solar systems, as the solar penetration grows. Nevertheless, there are also some further non-monetary benefits of PV systems to both the utility and to the rest of the utility customers, which should be taken into account. These include: (1) the possible reduction in the overall retail price electricity due to the fact that solar systems produce their electricity during the day when the importation price of electricity may be high, (2) solar PV systems reduce the need for the long and expensive process of expanding grid carrying capacity, since net metered PV systems deliver electricity at or near the point of consumption and (3) roof top solar systems generate a significant number of jobs, particularly in the roofing and electrical trades. The project seeks to evaluate and weigh the costs and benefits of roof top solar PV systems to prosumers, consumers and the electricity utility company. This will involve both technical and economic analysis, for example to predict the annual yields of PV systems at a given location, to evaluate Levelized Cost of Energy from the solar systems, or to evaluate the impact of solar-system-induced reduced utility revenue on the overall price of electricity.