The wPOWER Hub led a 23-member team to India for the Africa-India exchange program, to expose the members to the variety of renewable energy options available in India, both in heating and lighting, and also learn from the strength of the SSP grassroots social business model that involves women business persons.
Most of the members were part of the initial wPOWER Hub Training of Trainers (TOT) program held in Kenya in 2014. The host organization in India was Hub partner, Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP India). The members from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Nigeria, were drawn from the following Hub partner organizations: Green Belt Movement, Care International, Solar Sister and Women for Women International.
The exchange visit offered an opportunity to the participants to be engaged in the following field visits:
Visit to The Energy Resources Institute (TERI):
As part of the India-Africa exchange, the team visited TERI Headquarters for a brief orientation by the Shirish Garud, Director Renewable Energy Division. TERI is an independent research institute focusing on energy, environment and sustainable development. TERI is also the founder of TERI University and TERI-GRAM among other research centres globally including in Africa, with an aim to provide technical research and innovation assistance as well as facilitate exchange of knowledge amongst the communities.
Participants got to learn more on the research areas of TERI that included Solar thermal products, field evaluation systems, product improvisation (gasifiers and biogas), renewable energy technology options and mini-grid and solar lighting products.
The visit to TERI was informative and inspiring. The delegates received an overview of the organization from the leadership in addition to watching a film about its affiliations to TERI University and TERI Gram. It was an opportune time for the delegates to learn about the various innovative energy technologies TERI has developed and see them in action. It was also instructive to learn how a solar multi-utility project, set to be launched in Ethiopia, Kenya and Malawi, can help generate electricity to communities from multiple sources. The delegates visited the TERI University and TERI GRAM .
Visit to TERI University (TERI-U):
TERI-U was established by TERI as an academic institution with programs focusing on sustainable development. TERI University is the first of its kind in India to dedicate itself to the study of environment, energy and natural sciences for sustainable development. Ranked the world’s first University to focus on the field of Sustainability, TERI University offers PhD programmes in Biotechnology, Regulatory & Policy aspects, Energy & Environment and Natural Resources and Masters programmes Sustainable Development, Sustainable Development, Environmental Studies, Natural Resources Management, Resource and Environmental Economics, Climate change science and policy, Renewable energy technologies and management, Water Resources Management, Geo-informatics, Plant Biotechnology, Business Sustainability and in Infrastructure Management. The university has cross sectoral appeal with its courses attracting students from various fields like economics, geography, engineering that has allowed a variety of perspectives into the curriculum which in turn has provided a holistic approach to their study.
The foundation of TERI University came about as an extension to the consultancy and environment-related activities that were carried out by TERI, its parent organization devoted to environmental causes.
The team visited The Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) Capacity Building Hub and Solar Lighting Laboratory at TERI University.The capacity building hub was launched by TERI and TERI University as a result of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) forum held at the United Nations Headquarters New York, June 2014. The India-Africa exchange, gave the team an opportunity to learn more from the Hub on capacity building needs, including the following: awareness generation/sensitization, module design and development, and pilot training courses on solar lighting technologies and improved biomass cookstoves; knowledge assimilation and dissemination; and, identification of research gaps.
TERI’s Solar Lighting Laboratory provides testing services for solar lighting solutions and promoting quality assurance in the solar lighting industry for manufactures and evaluating their on-field performance focused on the rural market. The lab also offers training programs to professionals involved with manufacturing, testing and distribution of solar lighting systems.The lab visit equipped the India-Africa exchange participants with basic knowledge on solar lighting systems, their applications, basic testing parameters and testing and long term assessment of photovoltaic (PV) technologies for both indoor and outdoor environments.
TERI organized a visit, to TERI Gram- field campus at Gual Pahari – a research and retreat centre. During this visit the team was able to experience renewable energy in action –the mode of transport inside the TERI Gram campus is solar charged electronic scooters and the main TERI complex is a fully energy-efficient facility, harnessing both traditional and modern means energy: solar panels provide the electricity to the building, all gray water is recycled and used to irrigate the award willing rose gardens, the air conditioning in the guest rooms is achieved through underground tunnels that, using a pump, send cool air from 4 meters under the ground. The team was also able to see improved technologies in the areas of biogas and gasifiers.
The highlights of the visit were:
TERI Biomass Thermal Gasifier that efficiently burns wood producing heat used to heat water and run steam generators to produce electricity. The application of the innovation is for household domestic cookstoves with very minimal indoor air pollution. It can also be used to heat water tanks for cocoon-silk production and for large scale/commercial electricity production.
TERI Bio-oil production facility: The team had an opportunity to see a production site that produces bio-oils from biomass pyrolysis method. It involves burning of biomass e.g jatropha seeds in absence of oxygen in a gasifier to produce liquid oil – a viscous dark liquid. The oil can be used in various applications as diesel to run small machines and cars.
TEAM Biogas production site (Teri’s Enhanced Acidification and Methanization): The opportunity offered a unique experience to see a high biogas generation plant designed using TEAM process. The plant is exceptional above other technologies as it has low retention time 7 days, high methane production>75% and low payback period. The project is an aspiration to the participants as many did not expect that waste can produce biogas in a relatively short period and the waste product is packed as manure rich in organic material. The biogas is used both for cooking and generating electricity and so there is also zero methane release.
Visit to Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP) & The Clean Energy Hub:
The team visited the SSP Energy Hub. The Hub is an energy experience center that bridges energy market gaps in distribution channels; awareness levels and addresses the financial constraints to clean energy solutions. The visit presented a chance to the participants to see an array of clean energy technologies and learn of the delivery models the Hub uses to deliver the technologies to the community as well as the after sale services offered for the same. The technologies included solar water heaters, portable home solar lanterns, wood and pellets cookstoves and a solar briquette-drying machine. The Hub also served as a gathering place and resource center for entrepreneurs to visit and ask any questions of the resource people in Hub and experience the technologies first hand.
Later in the day, the team visited the SSP office for an interactive session with SSPs grassroot entrepreneurs. The aim of this session was to provide an opportunity for the African and Indian entrepreneurs to share experiences and approaches to their work.
This opportunity gave the participants a chance to learn from the social enterprise ecosystem model that SSP employs. The team was also able to draw lessons on how SSP, through a rural business school and Micro Finance Institution (MFI), has been able to unlock the barriers in adoption of clean energy technologies. Additionally, the model used to identify entrepreneurs, train them and raise awareness about clean energy entrepreneurship.
Field exposure visit:
Participants paid a visit to Osmanabad where they participated in an awareness raising activity conducted by the sakhis followed by an experience in the Nitur weekly market where participants were able to see how SSP sakhis take advantage of market days to promote and see their technologies. On the following day, the team visited various households in Osmanabad to get a closer feel of how communities are using clean energy in their homes as well as understanding how the sales networks the entrepreneurs have created are working to increase adoption of solar lighting and clean cooking solutions.
Capacity Building and Knowledge Exchange Workshop:
The delegation also had an opportunity to interact with Government of India officials to understand better the role that governments play in enabling the renewable energy agenda. During a community meeting, Mrs. Saman Rawat, CEO Indian Administrative Services (IAS) and Dr. Prashant Narnavere, District Collector, graced the exchange gathering and spoke of their support for the clean energy and environmental sustainability agenda, citing Prof. Wangari Maathai as an inspiration. The workshop was to exchange information on best practices and innovations through discussions between Africa participants and the India women entrepreneurs. The Project Director and the Academic Director planted a tree with the women sakhis in honor of the late Prof. Wangari Maathai and also to mark Earth Day.
“I learnt a lot and will be sharing with my Ugandan sisters at Solar
Sisters Uganda. I arrived 24 hours after most of you and was quite
sick by then. After 2 days in hospital, I am now back on the road to
promote and sell clean energy technologies. Kindly let me know if we can be of any
service to you.” With thanks. – Hannah Namuyomba ,Participant