I am currently traveling out of Pune, conducting training workshops on the Cooking Energy Service Decision Support Tool, that I have developed for Ashden India Renewable Energy Collective (AIREC), with funding support from GIZ, New Delhi. This series of workshops is sponsored by CLEAN Energy Network.
Since I started working on this Tool, I have been fascinated with the possibilities that arise out of moving away from 'technologies' and focusing on 'services'.
The idea behind this tool is that we need to focus on the service delivered by a cooking energy device in deciding the performance standards. The Tool provides a way of assessing the performance of any cooking energy device based on any technology on the basis of how well they match the performance requirements of users and other stakeholders. This also helps in ascertaining whether a particular cooking energy device is likely to succeed in a particular community/area or not.
I believe that the same service focused approach can be extended to other energy services too. This might help us move out of our obsession with grid electricity. There are many services that are best delivered with decentralised energy system, and many services that are best delivered without taking recourse to electricity generation.
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For example, what is the best way to obtain lighting service in the house today? In my opinion, solar powered LED lights is the best option, in most parts of India, wherever the sun shines most of the year. If there is a provision of charging with the help of an ordinary cell phone charger etc., then even the little uncertainty around availability of sunlight during rains, etc., can be adequately addressed. This is part of the reason why when we at Samuchit Enviro Tech decided to widen our scope from cooking energy devices, the first non-cooking product that we added to our portfolio was solar light!
Another example is that of water pumping. Electric pumps is just one possibility, one can have pumps running on fossil fuels too. Traditionally wind mills have been very effectively used for water pumping, along with animal and human power. The playpump is a brilliant idea that is catching on in Africa. Here children play on a merry-go-round, and the mechanical motion of the device pumps water up into a tank! Check this for more details!
I am sure that if start thinking from the service perspective, and come up with practical alternatives to grid power wherever possible, we will find that the actual grid-based electricity generation capacity that we need is much lower than what has been estimated. This approach will also by default put us on a path of low carbon development, fulfilling our obligation to reduce climate change impacts.
Samuchit Enviro Tech
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