After over three years working on the project, it was a great feeling to finally launch the first editions of Engineering in Development at EWB’s Massive Small Change conference today. Both the Pre-departure and Transport books were available in proper printed book form and were selling like hot cakes. The original print run of 20 Pre-departure books has now completely sold out, with almost all the books given to this years outgoing EWB-UK placement volunteers, who attended EWB’s Pre-departure Course earlier this month. 8 of the Transport volume were sold today and whilst the Energy volume was only available to demonstrate in pre-print form, we were really impressed with the amount of people who were already wanting to get hold of it. Not only were people interested in reading it, but also in contributing to it, as these are just the first (of hopefully many) editions of the ongoing Engineering in Development process, which is designed to capture and disseminate the huge range of knowledge that EWB-UK has acquired during the last 12 years. Both the Transport and Pre-departure books are now available to download for free in pdf format on the Engineering in Development web site and it is hoped that the Energy book will be joining them in the next couple of months.
Last Wednesday I had the privilege of sharing my work with a multidisciplinary audience as part of the Climate Histories seminar series hosted by CRASSH (Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities) at the University of Cambridge. The audience included social anthropologists, civil engineers, people working in policy and everything in between.
I was given the mammoth task of summarising my entire PhD thesis into a 45 minute presentation. Not easy when you consider that the original thesis was 110,000 words. However condensing it down into something more digestible was inevitable if the knowledge it contains was ever going to make it beyond my supervisors’ bookshelves.
It really was a pleasure to be able to share my work with such an engaging audience – I’m sure I learned more than they did from the experience, as the questions they asked and the debate that ensued took the research in new directions that I never would have imagined with my blinkered engineer’s brain!
Listen to the other talks or find out more about the CRASSH Climate Histories Seminar Series. Particularly recommended is Richard Fraser’s account of the the impact that large scale wind power in Inner Mongolia has had on both traditional and modern ways of living.
This is the third time we’ve run the roleplay that Fran Talvera kindly wrote up and shared on rural electrification in Peru. Groups of up to 10 split into an NGO (3 people) and a remote community from the Puno region of the Peruvian Andes (up to 7 people). The NGO, SolarTech, have to persuade the community that the solar PV systems that they “need” their solar PV systems installed in their village.
However, each member of the community has a different opinion: for example the corrupt community leader doesn’t want the income they gain from their diesel generator to be compromised, whilst the young boy who has seen the bright lights of the city can’t wait for this modern technology to arrive in his village.
The session is always so easy to run as people really get into their characters and from my personal experience of rural electrification projects, quite accurately reflects the many different motivations of the multitude of stakeholders involved in any given project. All the materials for this session are available from the EWB-UK web site training resource area (listed as “Rural Electrification Roleplay”).
Thanks also to Jonny Gutteridge for opening the day, to Milan Delor for setting the scene with his excellent introduction to the problem of energy access, to Stephen Turner for telling us about his recent placement with SELCO in India, to Sashi Grodinski for sharing his work on biofuels, to Tom Dixon of V3 Power for leading a hands on practical wind turbine session and of course to to Sophie McPhilips for making it all happen!
The difficulty of assessing the wind resource is one of the biggest barriers facing small wind for rural electrification. Its so disappointing to see a wind turbine installed in a location without enough wind (<4m/s), but it happens so often as the wind is such a difficult resource to assess. It varies so much in both space and time that the only way to accurately assess the wind resource is to install an anemometer and datalogger to take long term measurements at the installation site.
Problem is that such units are very expensive (normally >£200).
This unit has been designed to provide a low cost solution and is expected to sell for £100. In fact, it is an open source design, so it will hopefully be possible to buy the parts for just £50 and manufacture it yourself.
Matt Little has a PhD in stand alone power systems and has designed and built small wind turbines for the NGO SIBAT in the Philippines during a 1 year Engineers Without Borders placement, so this product comes highly recommended. Find out more on Matt’s web site, RE-Innovation.com.