Most people in the world live in rural areas, and amenities are dismally poor in many of these areas. Technological development, far from bringing meaningful improvement to their lives, races on in the cities, leaving rural residents ever further behind. For instance, this morning, some 300 million of India’s 1.3 billion people woke up to another day with no access to electric power, despite the best efforts of governments to extend the power grid. Why? Because these people do not have the disposable income to afford electric power, even if and when power flows through the grid to them.
We believe that revolutionary change is amazingly within reach. The Taksha Center for Smart Village Initiative (TCSVI) was established as a vehicle to implement the Smart Village Roadmap (Smart Village Roadmap 2017 (Atlanta, GA) – Conference Summary) to proceed to rural energy self-reliance, combined with rural-based enterprise to generate wealth. The central message of this Roadmap is that “Energy + Knowledge = Wealth + Independence”.
A simple calculation estimates that India has 600,000 villages (597,000, by latest census estimates). In many of these villages (some 80,000 identified so far), there is a Single Teacher School, set up to give the smallest children an opportunity to study in the evenings, after a day spent following their parents around, often working along with them to enable the family to eat. A teacher comes to teach them in the evenings. Unfortunately, there is often no light in the evening, let alone a roof, in the school.
If every such school is provided a 200-Watt Solar Photovoltaic power system, with a battery sufficient for four hours of bright, steady LED lighting and maybe a fan, in the evenings, how much will that cost? We know the answer, because we have had five such systems installed in 2017 in rural Tamil Nadu, India, and 50 more with 100 Watt systems, which proved sufficient. They cost less than $400 each, including installation and training villagers as installers.
Once these villagers are reached, 600,000 such systems will cost a total of under $240 million. Why is this difficult? The answer to that is the reason for this initiative: it is a lot harder than it looks. Money is not the main problem. One cannot simply go and install a power system in a village – and expect people to become educated and wealthy. There must be an entire infrastructure, an eco-system, to sustain education and enterprise generation. Continuing that calculation, a 1 kW of solar power for every Indian village will cost perhaps $1.2B; adding 10 kW of biogas heat and power, perhaps another few billion dollars. But these must be accompanied with the wealth-generating, sustainable enterprise and education systems that will bring true self-reliance.
The IEEE initiated the Smart Village concept in early 2017, when they brought solar PV and LED lighting to over 35 villages. The Taksha Center for Smart Village Initiative aims to connect and collaborate with them and numerous other people and organizations who are striving to make a difference. Our aim is not just to bring minimal subsistence economies, but to reverse urban migration, make the villages beautiful, clean and desirable places to live, work, raise a family, grow up and thrive. To construct an entire sustainable energy economy, probably with clean hydrogen, from the grassroots. As the brief calculation above shows, it is amazingly within our reach.
Narayanan Menon Komerath, PhD
Professor, Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering, Georgia Tech, GA US
TCSVI Technical Advisory Council (TAC):
President-elect, Global Indian Business Council
Vijay K. Madisetti, PhD
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Georgia Tech.
1st Abdul Kalam Conference: “Sustainable Development at Sustainable Cost”
IIT Madras, Chennai, India
July 11-14, 2019
Contact: Narayanan Komerath – 770-906-6235 cell – email@example.com
Online Registration Outside of India:
Smart Village Roadmap For Energy Self-Reliance Workshop
Georgia State University (GaTech), Atlanta, GA US
1.1-Executive Summary: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B69BgmuC9schRzR5UWVxR0ZMRXc/view
1.2-Full Proceedings: https://www.amazon.com/dp/197431281X
International Smart Village Initiative Newsletter (ISVIN) — TBA
Founding Editor in Chief: Narayanan Komerath, PhD, Chair, TCSVI and Professor, GaTech, Atlanta, GA US Founding Managing Editor: Adarsh Deepak, PhD, Chair, Taksha Institute (TI)