Feasibility evaluation of an off-grid solar-biomass system for remote area electrification considering various economic factors

Mohammad Mohseni, Seyed Farhan Moosavian, Ahmad Hajinezhad
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First published: 25 May 2022


How can we provide a reliable, sustainable and cost-effective supply of electricity in remote areas? In this study, researchers at the University of Tehran, Iran, analysed the feasibility of implementing a PV-biomass hybrid off-grid energy system in a remote rural area. Using HOMER (Hybrid Optimisation Model for Electric Renewables) software, they found that a system consisting of a biogas-fueled generator, PV panels, battery storage, and a converter was the most efficient configuration. The economic analysis showed a reasonable cost of energy, while the environmental analysis indicated a significant reduction in CO2 emissions. The study suggests that implementing hybrid renewable energy systems in rural areas could reduce a country's carbon footprint and improve power reliability. The authors encourage policymakers to adopt supportive policies to encourage investment in these kinds of energy systems. Future research could explore the application of similar models in other regions with different energy consumption scales and available resources, as well as involving other sources of energy such as wind or hydro.

From the editors of Energy Science & Engineering

Yun Hang Hu
Prof Yun Hang Hu
Charles and Carroll McArthur Professorship in Materials Science and Engineering
Michigan Tech, US
Dr Maryam Bayati
Dr Maryam Bayati
Assistant Professor, Mechanical and Construction Engineering
Northumbria University, UK

Energy Science & Engineering covers a wide range of topics in sustainable, state-of-the art future energy – from the fundamental to applied research and its supply, policymaking, economics and application.

This paper by Mohseni et al. conducted a techno-economic-environmental analysis for an off-grid PV-biomass hybrid renewable energy system in a rural area. Cost effective electricity is a key element in poverty alleviation, economic growth and improving life standard in rural area, as a global issue, which is targeted by this paper.


Off-grid renewable energy systems are a solution for power generation in areas where access to the grid is not possible or cost-effective; in particular, low population rural areas located far away from grid lines or in rugged terrains. Furthermore, over-reliance on fossil fuels for supplying global energy demand has led to the depletion of nonrenewable resources and environmental issues. This paper presents a feasibility assessment of an off-grid hybrid renewable energy system for a remote rural area in Kohgiluye and Boyer-Ahmad Province in Iran. Regarding the available energy resources in the region, a photovoltaic (PV)-biomass energy system is considered. HOMER Pro software is utilized to find the optimized sizing of the PV-biomass system to fulfill this load demand. The objective function in this optimization is the system's total net present cost. Due to the rapid fluctuation of economic factors in the country, several rates of inflation and discount rate are considered to investigate their influence on the costs of the system. The optimization result for the current inflation rate of 40% and the discount rate of 18% in the country proposes a hybrid energy system consisting of a 3 kW biogas-fueled generator, 4.74 kW PV, 10 kWh battery, and 2.07 kW converter to meet the 2.64 kW peak load and 14.53 kWh/day consumption of the community. The total net present cost and cost of energy are $93,057 and 0.0933 $/kWh, respectively. Finally, the environmental assessment of the proposed hybrid system shows an annual CO2 emission of 2.95 kg, which means 99.9% CO2 emissions mitigation compared to a conventional coal-based electrical plant.


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