breaking june 2017- california joins beijings BELT world as does Japan- bloomberg commits inner city mayors and business to paris climate accord

biolight ... ecovent OWR: underwater power source that has up to 130 times the energy density of Li-ion batteries why doesnt every city adopt mit year round student e-celebrations Village Infrastructure Angels
spaces to watch 24/7 - ashden

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The history of human progress shows quantum leaps when new energy or open tech is innovated. This is why my father's lifetime work at The Economist was geared to pro-youth economic celebrations of 2010s as worldwide youth's most productive time - how can clean energy project empower this -and will we network successfully so that the abundant green energy web replaces the petrochemical energy chain that is now drowning us in itsso very  20th century addiction to carbon. Fortunately the world's number 1 prize network for grassroots energy http:/'/ is run by the Sainsbury family who have also been youth's greatest supporters among shareholders of The Economist

Further references: ; and ; latest book on Grameen Energy

Please help us (rsvp  with our search of whom in DC would most wish to connect with student energy projects as we prepare tri-state student competitions DC VA MD - for example Branson's Carbon War-room; alumni of Neville Williams and  who first championed solar on behalf of Jimmy Carter's presidency and whose knowledge was the initial inspiration of Yunus 

we're helping prepare a benchmark tour of Bangladesh's deepest communal knowhow on green energy - target date march 2013 - early inquiries welcome

Thursday, November 15, 2012

reposted from Clean

Clean Energy Access For All - Grameen's Solar Success

Guest post by Nancy Wimmer, Director of microSOLAR and author of "Green Energy for a Billion Poor- How Grameen Shakti Created a Winning Model for Social Business"
In one of the poorest countries on the planet a renewable energy service company is installing one thousand solar home systems - a day. Not in its capital or busy urban centers, but where 80 percent of the population lives - in rural Bangladesh. The company, Grameen Shakti, literally translates as rural energy. By the end of the year it will have installed a total of one million solar systems and now has expansion plans to install five million systems by 2015. Shakti is succeeding where business as usual has failed, and in the year of Sustainable Energy for All, it's a success story we should all know by heart.
Grameen installation graph
(click to enlarge)

As in other developing countries, the rural market is incredibly tough to serve and villagers are very poor. So how is Grameen Shakti selling them 'expensive solar'?

Grameen Solar Panel vendor
Mr.Majid a food vendor

Shakti solved part of the problem by tailoring a solar system to exactly what people like the traveling food vendor, Mr. Majid needed: a 25W solar system to light his grocery cart and power his cassette player. They then coupled tailored solutions with finance providing him with a loan he could afford to repay because he doubled his monthly income by working after dusk and attracting more customers with popular Bangla music.
But the problems don't stop here.
Rural customers are hard to reach. In the Bangladesh delta of the mighty Brahmaputra, Ganges and Meghna Rivers it's even tougher. Its villages can become islands in the rainy season, when almost half the country is flooded. Other regions where the land lies lower than the plains turn into huge lakes, forcing villagers to travel by boat seven months of the year. Serving village customers on the delta means traveling bumpy mud paths and crossing rivers - on foot, by bike, boat and by rickshaw. It can take hours during the rainy season to reach a few customers.

Grameen Village 2
All business is rural

Shakti meets this challenge by creating rural supply chains and after sales service. Its engineers and technicians live, work and are trained on the job in the villages. They become part of the community, keep in close contact with their customers and make sure the solar systems are running. If there is a problem, Shakti is onsite to solve it - even in times of disaster.

In the aftermath of Cyclone Sidr, Shakti branch staff members were out doing repairs within hours in areas it took days and weeks for emergency teams to reach. For Shakti, all business is rural. Its field managers run 1,500 branch offices in every district in Bangladesh. They guarantee complete service - from installation, maintenance, repair and financing to customer care and training.

This focus on rural service began when Grameen was founded back in 1996. It sent bright, young engineers into the hinterland to set up its first branches. They won the trust of the villagers, trained local technicians, managed all financing, solar installations and maintenance. This laid the groundwork for Shakti's quality service and steady growth, but it took years to develop.

Shakti has now set up 45 technology centers to produce and repair solar accessories. In this way production moves from the capital to the villages and solves problems of cost, logistics and rapid growth in a highly decentralized company. The centers are managed by women engineers, who - like their male colleagues - live, work and train in rural communities. Of importance here is how these technology centers function as incubators for a further innovation: the village energy entrepreneur.

Grameen Engineer
Kohinur, an energy entrepreneur

Kohinur, for example was trained at a technology center to become an energy entrepreneur. She earns an income producing and repairing solar accessories, is self-employed and receives ongoing support from the technology centers for her business. Neighbors now bring Kohinur solar lamps for minor repairs instead of contacting the Shakti branch. The technology center engineers supervise Kohinur's work and do quality control.

Kohinur dropped out of school in the 8th grade, had no vocational training and no source of income, but is now able to contribute on average Taka 5,000 per month to her family's income. This is as much as her father earns delivering fresh fish to the shipping port in Khulna and a substantial increase in monthly income for a poor family.

Grameen Village
A house in danger of being washed away

Kohinur's story can be the story of the 1.3 billion people around the world without electricity access. But what we hear over and over again is that renewable energy technologies like solar are expensive and the rural poor are either too poor or too difficult to serve. The Grameen Shakti story explained in the book, Green Energy for a Billion Poor clearly shows how outdated and out of touch this line of thinking is.With over five million villagers enjoying solar electricity and Shakti technicians installing one thousand solar systems a day it's time our development institutions put their scarce development dollars behind initiatives such as these. No one can work miracles in a traditional rural society, but entrepreneurial companies like Shakti are proving we can do far, far better than business as usual.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Information from web of as at Nov 2012

editors note - when yunus10000 visited grameen shakti in summer of 2008to produce 10000 dvds of good news for free sampling to youth inspired by yunus and bangladesh's coming 40th anniversary - it was one of yunus' 3 most exciting social businesses in terms of sustaining exponential growth- for example the solar division was on target by end 2010 to have installed a total of half a million units doubling by end of 2011 to a million units - impact on an annual moores law

we believe this show how economic green energy can be when a community replication collaboration model is designed and recommend gshakti as a benchmark for all youthful fans of sustainable energy

Green Solutions
  • Soft credit through installments which makes SHSs affordable.
  • Community involvement and social acceptance.
  • Effective after sales service.
  • Blending Technology with Market Forces.

Improved Cooking Stove Program (ICS)
  • 50% less fuel cost
  • Women protected from in-door air pollution, no blackening, no heat from stove
  • Very cost effective for large establishment such as hostels, restaurants etc.

  • A financial mechanism based on credit, which makes biogas plants affordable to the villagers
  • Plants designed and constructed after one to one consultation with clients
  • Free after sales service including monthly visits by GS engineers for two to three years
  • Option for signing annual maintenance agreement with a small fee during post warranty period
  • Biomass saved which can be used as organic fertilizer

Organic Fertilizer Program
  • Slurry has the ability to safeguard organic materials, which increses its standard as a fertilizer.
  • Soil Research Department of DU, BAU have verified that GS organic fertilizer have very little harmful ingredients.
  • Poultry litter is very good for acidic soil and helps reduce acidity and aluminum poisoning.

Green Solutions
Solar PV Program
Rural electrification through solar PV technology is becoming more popular, day by day in Bangladesh. Solar Home Systems (SHSs) are highly decentralized and particularly suitable for remote, inaccessible areas. GS's solar program mainly targets those areas, which have no access to conventional electricity and little chance of getting connected to the grid within 5 to 10 years. It is one of its most successful programs. Currently, GS is one of the largest and fastest growing rural based renewable energy companies in the world. GS is also promoting Small Solar Home System to reach low income rural households.

SHSs can be used to light up homes, shops, fishing boats etc. It can also be used to charge cellular phones, run televisions, radios and cassette players. SHSs have become increasingly popular among users because they present an attractive alternative to conventional electricity such as no monthly bills, no fuel cost, very little repair, maintenance costs, easy to install any where etc.

GS installed SHSs have made a positive impact on the rural people. GS has introduced micro-utility model in order to reach the poorer people who cannot afford a SHS individually. Another successful GS venture is Polli Phone which allows people is off grid areas the facilities of telecommunication through SHS powered mobile phones.

GS has developed an effective strategy for reaching people in remote and rural areas with solar PV technology. It involves:

Financing Solar Home Systems
  • The user has to pay 15% of the total price as down payment. The remaining 85% of the total cost is to be repaid within 36 months with 6% ( flat rate) service charges.
  • The customer has to pay 25% of the total price as down payment. The remaining 75% of the cost is to be repaid within 24 months with 4% (flat rate) service charge.
  • Micro-utility : The customer has to pay 10% of the total price as down payment. The remaining 90% of the loan amount is to be repaid by 42 checques. There is no service charge.
  • 4% discount is allowed on printed price in case of cash purchase.
Advocacy and Promotion
  • Demonstrations, door to door visits
  • Meeting with village leaders, distributing brochures
  • Science fairs at the local level
  • Buyback system
  • Workshops for policy makers at national level
Community Involvement & Social Acceptance
  • Training and recruiting local youths as GS technicians.
  • Reaching out to women by providing them training and opportunities to make extra income.
  • Providing scholarship for children of SHS owners.
  • Buyback system.
  • Protecting the environment by collecting discarded batteries.
Effective after Sales Service
  • Free monthly checkups during payments of installment.
  • Post warranty service through annual maintenance contact with GS for solar home systems.
  • Inclusive warranty system plus a buy back system under which a buyer may return his system to GS when his area gets connected to the grid.
  • Training of users and technicians so that they can take care of their systems.
Blending Technology with Market Forces
  • Product diversification such as introducing LED, small SHS, DC-DC converters, safety devices for black/white TVs, etc
  • Focus on Income generation such as micro-utility model, SHS powered mobile phones
  • Collaboration with International manufacturers to produce CFL, LED locally, design more efficient solar systems at lower costs
  • Adaptive research such as developing improved electronic ballasts which lasts more than 3 years
Solar Home Systems Better Life More Income
Solar Home Systems (SHSs) has brought lighting facilities and related advantages such as mobile phones, computers, internet connection to remote, isolated areas including islands, Chittagong Hill tracts. This has brought significant improvements in the standard of livings of the people better light for children education and household activities for women, reduced in-door air pollution, more security and income generation opportunities including reduced work load for women etc.

Businesses such as rice/saw mills, grocery /tailoring shops, restaurants, market places etc with the help of SHSs have increased their income by extending working hours after dusk. (Case 1: A Saw mill owner, Mr. Hanif has increased his business turnover because of extended business hours). Besides PV systems have opened up new opportunities for employment and income generation activities such as community television centers, electronic repairing shops, mobile phone shops etc. (Case 2: Mr Manik has increased efficiency with SHS at his electronic repair shop).

In addition women are enjoying hazardless and hassle free lighting systems in their daily life. They are getting the opportunities to earn extra income by utilizing their time after dusk by sewing, poultry farming or setting home based industries. (Case 3: Laxmi Rani is running a successful handicraft industry with the help of SHS).

Two very successful applications of SHS are micro-utility model and SHS powered Polli-phone. Micro-utility an initiative by GS has provided thousands of shopkeepers with extended business hours and increased business turnover by giving them the opportunity to share lights of a SHS among themselves (Case 4 : Mr. Umar renting solar lamps to other shopkeepers). Polli Phone has created a successful synergy between women and technology - thousands of women are running profitable mobile phones business in off grid areas; their mobile phones powered by GS installed SHSs. (Case 5: Different religious institutions such as mosques, pagodas, churches are increasingly using SHSs. Different community based organizations such as health clinics, educational institutions are also using SHSs).
Micro-Utility Model
There are some very poor consumers who cannot afford a complete solar home system. In order to help such consumers, GS has introduced micro-utility system. Under this model, one entrepreneur installs the system at his own premise and share the load with some of his neighbours. Owner of the system is responsible for making installment payments to GS, more than 50% of which is covered by the rents he collects from the users of his system. Micro-utility model has become very popular in the rural market places and has helped to increase business turnover by extending business hours. More than 1000 micro-utility systems are operating in the rural market places.
Polli Phone
Polli Phones run by women entrepreneurs have revolutionized communication in rural villages. More than 300,000 Polli phones are in operation. This is a special program under which Grameen Bank Members are leased mobile phones to run profitable businesses and at the same time bring telecommunication facilities to rural areas. In off-grid areas, GS installed Solar Home Systems are powering the mobile phones. Women Entrepreneurs can earn more than Tk 2000 monthly through this business.
Integrated Rural Energy and Waste Management System through Biogas Technology
In Bangladesh only 3% of the people enjoy the facility of natural gas coming to their homes through pipe lines. The lucky few mostly live in the cities. Most of the Bangladesh’s rural people depend on biomass, crop residues, plant debris, animal dung and wood for fuel creating deforestation, flood, soil erosion etc.Women and children, on whom the burden of collecting fuel falls, suffer the most. They are the worst victims of indoor air pollution such as smokes in the kitchens.

GS believes that biogas technology is one of the best means to provide natural gas to the largest number of rural people. It can provide them with pollution free, efficient energy for cooking and at the same time protect them from diseases by giving them a cleaner environment. Biogas technology can be used to implement a sustainable waste management program suitable for rural areas, as wastes of all sorts are transformed into biogas or slurry.

GS has been successful in promoting and constructing both domestic and larger sizes biogas plants to rural villagers. Impact on biogas plant owners has been positive and demand is increasing day by day. All its clients are enjoying hassle free and pollution free energy for cooking and business activities. Bangladesh has the potential for developing 4 million biogas plants. GS intends to further scale up its successful pilot project and develop a 5 year action plan for expanding biogas program in Bangladesh.

GS has developed an integrated and sustainable model for expanding biogas program. The program is based on market approach. GS plays the role of a facilitator, not of a provider. GS does not provide any subsidies, but arranges for soft loans. GS depends on the goodwill of the community for its success. Key features of the program are:
Biogas Plants: Offering Fuel, Health and Income Solutions
Biogas plants giving the rural people especially their women the opportunity to cook in a pollution free environment smokeless kitchens. It has also reduced their cooking time, rescued them from the burden of collecting fuel. (Case 1: Ruksana Parveen using biogas for cooking)

Increasing price of kerosene, diesel and other conventional energy sources has made biogas technology an attractive alternative for many rural households. Many rural households are buying biogas at Tk 500- Tk. 300 per month and finding this alternative more cost effective than traditional sources. Therefore owners of domestic size biogas plants are not only using biogas themselves, they are also selling this gas to their neighbours. They are also using the slurry to increase their agricultural yields. (Case 2: Haji Fazal Ali making extra income from renting biogas to others). Small businesses such as tea-stalls and small street side hotels are also renting biogas from others to meet their energy needs.

Biogas technology has become very popular among poultry owners. They are constructing medium to large sized plants to get rid of their poultry wastes and at the same time earn extra income through selling of biogas and slurry. (Case 3: Khaled Hossein using biogas to produce energy and generate income).

Orphanages and some industries have become interested in biogas technology to meet their energy needs and generate income. For example, Muslim Mission has constructed biogas plants on its premise and has signed agreement with GS to manufacture and promote organic fertilizers. Akber Ali, a mid scale business from Jessore manufactures bitumen as well as operating a steel work. His large factory is co-fueled by a biogas plant. Though he has a poultry farm, he buys poultry droppings and cow dung from surrounding farmers. Grameen Dnaone plans to set up biogas plants to power its rural based industry.
Financing Biogas Plants
  • The buyer pays 25% of the total cost as down payment. The remaining 75% of the cost is to be repaid through 24 monthly installments with 8% service charge (flat rate) within 2 years.
  • The buyer can construct his plant with his own funds under the supervision of GS engineers. In this case, half of the technical and supervision fees will be paid as advance and the rest will be paid after the commissioning of the plant.
Community Biogas Plants
Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries of the world. Most people especially in the rural areas live either as joint families or as groups where each household joins another household, usually relatives living very near each other. GS has already identified the rural households which have the potentiality of setting up biogas plants. Joint families and relatives living near each other can share the cost and benefit of owning and operating a biogas plant. GS is also seeking to bring low income groups under its biogas program by linking them with micro-credit as well as providing them with alternative ways to pay back. For example, a farmer may be provided with livestock so he may set up a biogas plant and at the same time generate income.
Linking Biogas Technology with Poultry and Organic Fertilizer Business
GS is linking up biogas technology with live stock and poultry business including agriculture and fisheries to develop a sustainable biogas program. Poultry firms are interested in biogas technology because it helps them to get rid of poultry wastes and at the same time meet their energy needs as well as earn extra income by selling biogas and slurry. Same is true for livestock owners. Farmers would be interested in buying slurry from biogas plant owners because this reduces their farming costs and increases their yield. Many enterprises who do not have poultry or livestock are also interested in biogas plants. Others own too few poultry or live stock to construct biogas plants which would meet their energy needs. These people can buy poultry litter or cow dung from poultry and live stock owners for their biogas plants. Therefore an intermediary entrepreneur class would develop who will sell poultry litter, cow dung and slurry linking biogas technology with agriculture and live stock business.
Improved Cooking Technology for Rural Women
In rural Bangladesh, the energy consumption for cooking outstrips the demand for all other uses of energy. Grameen Shakti has launched a program to promote improved cook stoves in Bangladesh to address the high demand for biomass fuels and indoor air pollution caused by cooking on polluting, traditional stoves.

GS has become interested in ICS because it helps women and makes their lives easier. GS sees a potential market of at least 2 million ICSs in the first three years of the program. GS plans to depend on two types of local players for expanding Improved Cook Stoves - local technicians and local manufacturers. GS has already trained more than 600 local youth especially women to make, sale and repair ICSs. GS plans to train more technicians in the next phase .These trained technicians will train others as well as produce and commercialize improved cook stoves on behalf on Grammen Shakti. Many of them will soon start their own business in arrangement with GS and will lay the basis of developing ICS entrepreneurs at the rural level. GS has developed and pilot tested its own model of three mouthed stoves which is more efficient than previous models in Bangladesh. GS has also set up 10 manufacturing units in rural settings for constructing ICS accessories such as metal grates and chimneys. These manufacturing units are run by entrepreneurs with the financial and technical assistance from GS This strategy has proved to be successful. More than 2000 ICSs have been constructed within first six months of the program. Women and commercial organizations such as food industries, restaurant hostels, soap manufactures have shown great interest in ICS.