WISIONS of Sustainability

Our mission is to empower individuals and communities to transform the production and use of energy so that it effectively enables sustainable development. Read more about WISIONS activities, goals and background.

News Blog

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Hybridisation of Micro Hydro and Solar Technologies in India

News from WISIONS posted on April 28th, 2016

One of our current SEPS projects in India aims to integrate an existing micro hydro power unit into the national grid in order to prevent it from becoming non-operational and to demonstrate the potential for grid-connected micro hydro solar hybrid systems. Our partners at Ashden India Renewable Energy Collective (AIREC) began working on the project in October 2015 and have recently completed the first project phase.Read moreMinimize

AIREC and its local partner organisations have carried out five field visits to the Upper Killing village to socialise with the community, familiarise them with the project and also seek their opinions. To better understand the needs of the community with respect to socio-economic conditions and energy consumption at village and household level, a detailed baseline survey was conducted. The results demonstrate that electricity for household use is the priority, followed by electricity for community services. The study also indicated that expenditure on electricity bills has increased significantly since the village was connected to the national grid.

Furthermore, AIREC and the NB Institute of Rural Technology (NBIRT) carried out an extensive technical assessment of the existing micro hydro power plant to understand the technical challenges faced in ensuring the smooth operation of the plant, which has been non-operational since the village was connected to the national grid. Key challenges that were identified include:

  • The under-utilisation of the hydro power plant due to seasonal variations 
  • The need to renovate and operationalise the micro hydro power plant in parallel with the grid and solar technologies
  • The need to expand the power house to accommodate the planned Intelligent Circuit Controller system which will synchronise the electricity supply from three different sources (solar, micro hydro and the national grid)
The basic design for this Intelligent Circuit Controller system, which is the key innovation of the project, was also established during the first project phase.

Additional activities included the invitation for tenders to carry out the civil construction, to supply the Intelligent Circuit Controller system and to design and supply the 5kW solar PV power plant. The next steps will include the installation and commissioning of the solar PV power plant, the implementation of the Intelligent Circuit Controller unit and operationalisation of the micro hydro power plant, including technical training and capacity building activities.

More general information is available at our project page: Hybridisation of an Existing Micro Hydro Plant with Solar PV and Integration with the Grid

Meet the WISIONS Team at the 2016 International Tech4Dev Conference

News from WISIONS posted on April 25th, 2016

The WISIONS team will participate in this year's "UNESCO Chair Conference on Technologies for Development: From Innovation to Social Impact", which will take place from 2nd to 4th May 2016 at the EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) in Lausanne, Switzerland.Read moreMinimize

Technological innovation is vital for addressing global challenges such as climate change, pollution, disease, rising inequalities and chronic poverty. We need renewable energy sources, efficient transport networks, effective public health systems, well-designed infrastructure, improved agricultural systems and access to quality education for everyone.

The guiding question of this UNESCO Conference is how we bridge the gap between innovation and social impact. Rising global challenges require technological innovations, but the ultimate aim is positive impact in the real world. It is important to focus on technical excellence, but even more so to build successful business models for large-scale deployment and long-term financial sustainability. The Tech4Dev Conference provides a critical platform for knowledge exchange, enabling researchers to present their findings and for practitioners to outline their needs and insights, as well as relating their experiences from the field.

The WISIONS team will participate in the session Paths Towards Impact: How to Evaluate Technology for Development Interventions on Monday, 2nd of May, presenting a study entitled "What Impacts Do Small-Scale Energy Projects in Developing Countries Really Have? Findings from a Repeated Post-Evaluation".

Furthermore, the coordinator of the Wind Empowerment network will present a study entitled "A Review of the Behavioural Change Challenges Facing a Proposed Solar and Battery Electric Cooking Concept" as part of the session From Developing to Scaling Up Innovative Social Businesses at the Base of the Pyramid on Wednesday, 4th of May.

Further general information is available at the Tech4Dev homepage and the detailed conference programme is available here (pdf).

Biogas and Solar Drying Technologies for Cocoa Production in Ecuador

News from WISIONS posted on April 11th, 2016

Our Ecuadorian SEPS project entitled CRECER (Growing Esmeraldas with Renewable Energy) has successfully finalised its third and final project phase. It was led by the implementing organisations CorpoEsmeraldas, Green Empowerment, and FEDETA. The last project phase was dedicated to the monitoring, evaluation, and dissemination of project results.Read moreMinimize

The overall aim was to improve the livelihoods of rural families in Rioverde, Esmeraldas, Ecuador through the implementation of renewable energy (RE) technologies and sustainable agricultural practices. Although Rioverde is one of Ecuador’s poorest and most under-served regions, a growing market for sustainably produced cocoa beans, the region’s traditional cash crop, offers rural smallholders new opportunities.

The project’s objective was to improve cocoa production and processing in three communities, Felfa, Las Amazonas, and Estero Hondo, through the implementation of biogas digesters, passive solar dryers, and socio/technical training. The aims were to help restore the region’s fragile natural environment, reduce fossil fuel consumption and improve lives and livelihoods.

Responding to a variety of social situations in the three participating communities, management models for CRECER’s implemented technologies included elements of individual ownership, locally-elected committee administration and mixed communal/entrepreneurial approaches. As a result of the broad focus of CRECER’s training programmes (RE technician, cocoa cultivation, gender equity/local organisation improvement and environmental programmes), participation was open to many individuals in each community. Overall, more than 100 people attended courses covering areas including cocoa cultivation, social issues and environmental conservation themes. 

To create local options for the replication of the technologies installed, the promoter/trainer course was largely hands-on and interest generated by the initial biogas digester construction is expected to create several additional sales in the Rioverde region in the next year, providing supplementary income, if not significant employment opportunities, to enterprising promoters.

The participation in CRECER's project appears to have been a catalyst for local community action in Felfa, as community members have come together to form a legally-registered grassroots organisation to formalise local leadership for future efforts and to channel requests for further training support.

Photos of the project are available on our Facebook page. A summary of the project results will soon be published on our project site: Growing Esmeraldas with renewable energy.

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