Ergonomic, simple, sustainable, featuring innovative design and an international patent. All of these characteristics have earned TOB, or Triangle-based Omni-purpose Building, the award given by the "International Conference on PV-Hybrid and Mini-Grid", held on April 10 and 11 in Bad Hersfeld, Germany.
TOB is a structure built by the Enel Engineering and Research Division in 2012 as part of the Enabling Electricity programme for the fight against energy poverty. It is a mini PV solar power plant designed to supply electricity to people living in remote areas that not are connected to the power grid, such as the rural communities of developing nations.
The structure is made of triangular wooden elements covered by stand-alone PV solar panels and is equipped with accumulators and batteries that guarantee electricity supply even in the absence of sunlight. It is modular, portable, and easy to assemble and offers low costs of production and installation. TOB is also inhabitable and can be used to house clinics, classrooms, shops and meeting places.
According to Sauro Pasini, Enel's Head of Research, the award obtained by TOB "is motivation to contribute in a more incisive and effective way towards both sustainable development and providing power to remote users."
The Bad Hersfeld summit was a meeting point for the industry, universities, end-users of mini-grid hybrid technologies and business models to ensure clean energy in rural areas. In 2011 as many as 47 gigawatts of new diesel generators were sold around the world to produce electricity in remote areas, leading us to the conclusion that today mini-grid PV solar systems, due to their reduced costs and increased reliability, are a sustainable alternative to mini-diesel networks.