For the past two years, a Sustainable Vision team from Baylor University has worked in remote villages in Honduras, helping locals build mini hydro-power stations.
The team's company, Village Energy, was recently awarded a $200,000 grant from the Inter-American Development Bank - one of 21 grants the IADB awarded for its “Energy Innovation Contest”. Submissions were judged on the criteria of energy access to impoverished peoples, innovative financial models, and use of renewable energy among others.
"I knew we were a good fit, said team leader Brian Thomas, "but there were over 1,000 applicants, so I was very glad and grateful to receive it. We partnered with a Honduran organization that promotes small-scale renewable energy systems in Honduras."
Village Energy is seeking a further $150,000 in investments. Brian can be contacted here. Read more about the project.
Many poor villages in developing countries are located in isolated mountainous areas without access to grid-based electric power. Without electricity, villagers burn a variety of fuels for energy, which can lead to respiratory disease and environmental degradation. At the same time, a number of these villages have nearby streams that represent a considerable untapped natural resource for energy creation. This team aims to take advantage of those stream, creating village-level pico-hydro systems that harness the small mountain streams to produce enough energy to serve the villages. This team has already developed and installed one pico-hydro systems sustainable by building them into community-owned businesses. Specifically, they will develop business plans for two types of companies: franchised power-producing operations in rural villages (villagers running the pico-hydro systems), and system design companies located in nearby urban centers. The team expects to create three to six more prototype systems in Honduran villages similar to Pueblo Nuevo.
This E-Team is working toward establishing profitable, sustainable, coconut-based business ventures owned and operated by poor people living within ten degrees latitude of the equator, where coconut trees thrive. The team is researching the marketability and effectiveness of four coconut-based products: bio-diesel (from coconut oil), pig and chicken feed (from the white "meat"), particle board (from coconut shells), and anti-erosion matting (from the fuzzy fibers on the coconut shell). The team has already made bio-diesel for rural electrification using diesel generators, and demonstrated that pigs and chickens will eat and prosper on coconut meat. With NCIIA funding the team is developing simple, affordable technologies to separate the coconut's meat, shell, and fuzz and convert them into feed, particle board, and matting.
The E-Team consists of two undergraduates in engineering, one graduate in engineering, and two MBAs. The distinguished professor of engineering at Baylor, as well as the head of the department of mechanical engineering at Papua New Guinea Technical University, are team leaders. Advisors to the team include two professors of management and entrepreneurship at Baylor.