News

IEEE Smart Village: Empowerment through Enterprise

SunMokshaYou Will Belive Solar Deployment

Just fifteen years ago, the notion of an IEEE group working to bring enterprise development to off-grid and remote communities was nascent. Today, IEEE Smart Village (ISV) stands as a beacon of hope across four continents, dedicated to uplifting communities through local entrepreneurship and education. Since its inception, ISV has touched the lives of over two million people, offering mentorship, educational opportunities and seed funding in regions where such support is scarce. With five regional working groups, ISV incubates local business models based on electrification and productive use of IEEE technology, to establish scalable and self-sustaining solutions for long lasting impact.

Guidance is offered through regional volunteers, along with financial assistance to validate business models. The selection process is comprehensive and prioritizes proposals that demonstrate a clear vision for scalability and self-sustainability that are capable of attracting additional resources for future expansion. You are invited to explore some of the recent initiatives that exemplify ISV’s mission.

Solar off-grid island: Smart Irrigation, India

At the forefront of all ISV initiatives lies self-sustainability. More than a decade ago, SunMoksha Power Private Limited, a turnkey microgrid solution provider, and an engineering college in southeast India pioneered microgrid and smart irrigation technologies. Today, with the support of ISV, they are transforming Kudagaon, a river island in the state of Odisha, India with SmartAQUAnet™, a multi-stage solar-pumped irrigation system, which the farmers will be taught to own, operate and maintain. This innovative project, supported by the IEEE Power & Energy Society, aims to revolutionize agricultural practices, doubling farmer’s incomes within a year.  

This enterprise example highlights two aspects of ISV’s approach to engaging with entities for long lasting impact. First, ISV requires applicants to demonstrate community engagement: they must show clear understanding of the local needs, and community buy-in for the proposed technology and business solutions. Second, ISV’s program support fosters invaluable peer-to-peer learning opportunities among and between ISV funded entities. SunMoksha’s model of community engagement is now being shared with other ISV developers and the irrigation technology is being made available to other initiatives in India and around the globe.

Fleet of standalone Solar: Mini-grids in Nigeria

Established in 2015 and commencing electricity provision in 2017, Darway Coast Nigeria, Ltd. currently operates 14 standalone solar mini-grids. Catering to more than 10,000 customers and benefiting a population of 50,000 in Rivers State, Nigeria. Their commitment to sustainable energy drives their mission forward.

Throughout Darway’s history, ISV has been instrumental in supporting its goal of replacing kerosene, candles and petrol or diesel generated electricity with non-polluting electricity for domestic and productive use. Using this approach, Darway has successfully powered several communities and 15 health centers that now have access to reliable and clean energy. As a result, more women have access to better healthcare, and are directly or indirectly employed, children have better care, students have reliable energy for studying, and more than 30 new businesses have sprung up. 

Thanks to ISV’s support, Darway has demonstrated its credibility as an enterprise worthy of securing funds from other sources. This will enable them to energize over 150,000 customers and empower over one million people in the next four to five years. Their partnership with ISV, made possible by donors and the  IEEE Nuclear Plasma and Sciences, Industrial Applications, and Power and Energy Societies, is moving them forward to achieve this goal.

Alaska Unlimited: A Unique Collaboration

Aniak is a native Alaskan village in the sparsely populated backcountry of Alaska, in one of the poorest regions in the United States. Electricity for 400 homes and businesses is generated locally using 1.2 million gallons of diesel annually. The Village is located 300 miles west of Anchorage where supply logistics are difficult, and grid connection is highly unreliable, and expensive. Couple that with the fact that there is minimal sunshine for six winter months. Sadly, this description is not unique to Aniak, it is typical of many Alaska native habitations in this vast state.

Members of the ISV North America Working Group (NAWG) joined with Alaska Unlimited (“AU”) in 2023 to seek cleaner, local alternatives for electricity generation. AU is an Alaska native woman led 501(c)(3) nonprofit, with a purpose to promote direct beneficial economic diversification, stability and growth that works with all levels of Government and society to improve socioeconomic conditions of rural Alaska. NAWG engages with local organizations such as AU to develop locally viable solutions. Their joint analysis of the technical, jurisdictional, cultural and financial dimensions of implementing a solar photovoltaic system for supplying electricity during six summer months contributed to the local Alaska tribal corporation to  take the development forward.

This partnership represents an exciting evolution for ISV. It offers a new model for ISV wherein the focus is on providing  technical expertise and mentorship versus financial support. Next up with AU, a study of micro-nuclear deployment is planned pending the availability of financial support.

Join the movement:

IEEE Smart Village invites you to be part of its transformative journey. Together, we can nurture local enterprises, harness technology, and ignite change in underserved communities worldwide. To learn more about ISV’s impactful initiatives and how you can contribute, visit https://smartvillage.ieee.org.

Interested in supporting IEEE Smart Village’s mission? Contact Michael Deering, Sr. Development Officer, at m.deering@ieee.org or +1 732 562 3915. Your support will make a difference.

Share This:

Related Stories
Celebrating Education Week 2024

Celebrating IEEE Education Week – 14 – 20 April 2024

6

TryEngineering: Fostering Next Generation of Innovators

2024 VICS THEME GRAPHIC

Mark Your Calendar: 2024 IEEE Vision, Innovation and Challenges (VIC) Summit & Honors Ceremony will be in Boston this May!