By Geeny George Shaju, Communications and Programme Manager, RCUK India.
Soon after the RCUK Impact event in Kolkata, I along with Dr Nafees Meah, Director RCUK India travelled to Visva-Bharati University, Shantiniketan to attend the final review meeting for an UK-India research project – Biomass and Concentrating Photovoltaic System for Rural and Urban Energy Bridge. Read more
Beginning in 2011, this four year project is part of the UK-India Bridging the Urban-Rural Divide (BURD) programme, funded by the RCUK Energy and Digital Economy programmes, and by the Indian Department of Science and Technology (DST).
University of Nottingham, University of Exeter and University of Leeds are the leading UK collaborators, and on the Indian side led by Visva-Bharati University and Indian Institute of Technology – Madras and Bombay.
The aim of the project was to develop new sustainable hybrid energy systems, integrating photovoltaic technology into biomass and waste power generations to create a low cost power system that could be managed and maintained by rural communities.
On arrival we were taken to the project site, which is a place close to the university campus and a Santhal (tribal village), with over 80 households. Researchers and students working on this project explained the functionality of the project and how the BioCPV was providing electricity to the village community.
After the site visit, research teams and funders congregated to develop a deeper understanding of the impact of this project. A key outcome of this joint project has been to provide reliable electricity to the rural households, school, community and even the local medical centre. This has enabled improved facilities for education and health, an improved lifestyle and a reduction in greenhouse emission, improving overall sustainability within the village.
The highlight of the meeting was handing over of the management of the BioCPV to the village community through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This agreement is very important as it gives the community ownership and empowers them for a better tomorrow. It also demonstrates that new sustainable technologies can be designed to be accessible and maintainable by local communities, something which is incredibly important for ‘off grid’ settlements.
Tagore’s Shantiniketan, (which means ‘abode of peace’) is known as a centre of knowledge and creativity. This visit was a perfect illustration of joint knowledge, creativity and more.
See more pictures from the visit here.