Koh Jik is a peaceful fisherman’s village located off the east coast of Thailand. A short 40-minute boat ride takes visitors to the island, home to 400 inhabitants known for their strong community spirit. Rarely visited by tourists, the island offers a scene and experience unlike any other. The island has no connection to Thailand’s main grid, — a truly off-grid community — but is electrified by their own micro-grid powered by renewable energy.
Koh Jik Island
The community has been fully reliant on their micro-grid system to provide electricity access for the past 14 years. The system is getting old and critical system components, such as the batteries, are coming to their end of life. Without action, the community is gradually losing reliable 24/7 access to electricity and is increasing the use of unsustainable diesel to meet their daily energy needs.
The ReCharge project aims to restore and improve the system on Koh Jik by replacing existing failing lead-acid batteries with lithium-ion packs, implementing an automatic control system and network-connected digital meters. In addition to providing clean, renewable, and reliable energy to the community and working towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The project also aims to showcase a new generation of micro-grid using lithium-ion batteries, solar PV, and diesel with a high renewable energy share. Moreover, it will demonstrate that energy access enabled by micro-grids can be self-sustained after grant or private financing is repaid through the development of a tailor-made tariff structure for low-income island communities. ReCharge is a 15-month project that concluded in 2020.
A picture of a part of Koh Jik’s micro-grid, on which the community has been relying for the past 14 years to access clean, renewable electricity.
Investors are a must for any project’s success – and they found one that is dedicated to the success of the microgrid upgrade and to the creation of a working business model that will keep the Koh Jik microgrid operational in the long-run. The investment will come from a joint venture between Blue Solar and Symbior Solar. Since Blue Solar is developing utility-scale PV plus storage, they see Koh Jik as a small testbed before implementing large-scale Li-ion energy storage systems (ESS). More developments:
All stakeholders have agreed to a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that states interest from all parties to undertake the project.
The team, on behalf of the Koh Jik community, received a grant from the Australian Embassy in Bangkok under their Direct Aid Programme (DAP), which is earmarked for the replacement of old analog meters with digital meters to simplify the island’s billing system. They installed the new meters in April 2019.
The total project cost is 195 000 USD to be covered through grant funding for the smart-meter component (Australian Aid) and by private financing from Thai developers for the generation portion (Blue Solar and Symbior).
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