Industrial Ecology for Sustainable Energy Systems Design in Remote by accinent


									     Industrial Ecology for Sustainable Energy Systems Design in Remote Rural India
                    Anu Ramaswami, Mark Pitterle and Michael Whitaker
           Department of Civil Engineering, University of Colorado, Denver, USA
              Corresponding author email:

Background: In 2003, the human population on planet Earth exceeded 6.3 billion [1]. Our
increasing numbers, along with our present modes of development, have increasingly stressed
the earth system, its natural resources, and its ability to regenerate water, energy, and food
resources essential for self-sustenance. Global sustainability broadly defined by the Brundtland
Commission as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs” [2], must address the more than 4 billion people who
currently do not have access to basic water, energy, housing and sanitation services. Industrial
ecology principles need to be applied and tested to determine if these basic services may be
provided to several transition societies across the globe in a cost-effective, socially-acceptable
and culturally-appropriate manner, without detrimental impacts to the local ecosystem and the
global environment, a challenge highlighted by a recent World Bank report [3].

In this paper, we discuss the steps required for sustainable design of a small scale energy system
in two tribal villages in the valley of the river Narmada, in India, both of which are not connected
to the centralized power supply and hence lack electricity. This project is being conducted by a
CU Denver organization, PLACES, with a mission to Partner, Learn, Create and Empower for
Sustainability, in close partnership with AID-India, a community development organization in
India [4]. The main steps in sustainable energy systems design in this project are: 1) Community
participatory planning, 2) site energy resource survey, 3) technology selection and design
employing industrial ecology principles, 4) laboratory testing, 5) field testing, and, 6) final
implementation. Our paper examines the first three aspects in sustainable energy systems design.

Community Participatory Planning for this project was initiated with a site visit in August
2004. During this visit, the electricity needs were self-identified by the villagers through
consensus to be primarily the supply of 4 to 5 hours of lighting per family per night, and,
provision of a single community refrigerator for the village to store vital vaccines and medicines.
The community revealed a strong sense of self-identity and self-knowledge, and, consistently
articulated that they did not want more than the above requested services. The willingness to pay
for the desired energy services was found to be Rupees 50 per month per household,
corresponding to approximately US $1 per month per household. Based on the population of
each village, the above lighting needs correspond to approximately 2,200 watt-hours per village
of 750 residents each. Based on community views on electricity generation options, and analysis
of regional wind resource maps, wind energy was chosen to be the best method of distributed
electricity generation.

The Sustainability Goal and Challenge is to meet the above energy needs of the village:
   a) using locally available materials (appropriate technology),
   b) using renewable resources , thereby promoting ecosystem sustainability,
   c) minimizing the release of harmful/toxic chemicals (environmental sustainability),
   d) collaborating with the local villagers in all aspects of design, field testing, construction
      and maintenance in order to ensure socio-cultural sustainability,
   e) designing with local materials and skills to minimize costs while also providing
      opportunities for micro-enterprise, thereby promoting economic sustainability.

Technology Selection and Design is being conducted currently using specific criteria developed
from the sustainability goals listed above. The criteria include: energy conversion efficiency,
distribution and storage losses, simplicity of construction and local replication of technology,
availability, recycle/reuse and successful adaptation of local materials, field performance, failure
modes and percentages, absence of toxic materials, waste disposal-recycle options, economic
costs, ease of maintenance, and end-of-life considerations. The above criteria are applied to
evaluate small scale wind generation at three different scales that have yet to be tested in the
field in any project worldwide. The three scales are based on spatial distribution of the village
homes either in single remote houses or in clusters of 20 – 30 homes that comprise a hamlet;
several hamlets are located at varying distances from each other, and constitute a village. The
three different scales of decentralized small-scale wind generation are:
     A village-scale 750 to 1KW generator operating on horizontal axis wind turbine (HAWT)
        design [5];
     Hamlet-scale 100 W vertical axis wind turbine design (VAWT) [6], and,
     Individual home unit generator based on enhanced pico turbine design [7] with 5 to 10 W
        power supply capacity.
Each option includes corresponding energy storage and distribution technologies. The three
options are being compared on the basis of equal numbers of homes served, using theoretical
calculations, lab scale prototype testing and limited field testing to be performed in March 2004.
Results from this study are expected to demonstrate the application of industrial ecology
principles, as well as technology innovations, in providing energy services in tribal and transition
societies who have historically been ignored as the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) in economic
capacity [8].

   1. U.S. Census Bureau “World Population Information,”, Accessed March 2004.
   2. World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future, Oxford
      University Press, Oxford (1987).
   3. World Bank, World Development Report 2004: Making Services Work For Poor People.
   4. . Accessed August 2004.
   5. Piggott, G. Windpower Workshop, Centre for Alternative Technology Publications
   6. Eggleston, Eric. What Are Vertical-Axis Wind Turbines (VAWTs)? AWEA. American
      Wind Energy Association, 1998. accessed August
   7. Accessed August, 2004.
   8. Prahalad, C. K. & Hammond, A "Serving the World's Poor, Profitably" Harvard Business
      Review. (2002)

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