Project Lead(s): Edwin Nowicki
Billions of people still lack the essentials of a healthy existence and meaningful self-empowerment (food, water, medications, education and a reliable form of income and means to contribute more fully to society).
Providing rural communities with reliable electricity can help alleviate some of these imbalances.
The project was centred on a small-scale hydro project in the rural village of Ghodasin, in Jumla, Nepal.
The project team designed and tested a prototype version of the Distributed Electronic Load Controller (DELC), to be placed in each home.
While a communal hydroelectric generator still provides electricity, the DELC uses power that otherwise is wasted to provide the home with hot water and cooked food.
The controller is designed to be installed in a home to monitor the power usage of the home. If the power usage is below a threshold value (for example, as dictated by the main circuit breaker of the home), then excess power can be directed to a domestic hot water tank and food cookers.
The original digital DELC, prototyped at the University of Calgary, was re-engineered in Nepal. The re-engineered analog DELC prototype employs inexpensive op-amp decision-making devices, uses an inexpensive voltage sensor, controls an inexpensive SCR switch device and is encased in a smaller plastic enclosure, at a cost of about $20 in retail components.
By December 31, 2014, of the 136 homes in the village of Ghodasin, the Kathmandu Alterative Power and Energy Group (KAPEG) had assisted in installing: 50 analog Distributed Electronic Load Controllers; 130 water filters, 92 cooking stoves,10 latrines and 24 greenhouses.
The project team has discussed the best organizational structure to scale up the project and to extend it to include Ethiopia, as the mountainous north of Ethiopia bears many similarities with Nepal in that there are poor, remote villages with substantial hydro resources.
Knowledge about the project has been presented at conferences, including the ISES Solar World Congress in Cancun, Mexico, and the IEEE International Humanitarian Technology Conference in Montreal, Canada.