Adam and Chloe's Indian Energy Research Mission

Wed, 21/08/2013

Two of TCW’s interns working on the Access to Affordable Energy Programme, Adam and Chloe, both of the University of Bristol, have raised funds to travel to India on a fact-finding mission. Their purpose is to better understand the energy needs of the communities that TCW is hoping to support, the potential for renewable energy solutions and the impact of working with these communities in the context of local development.

The pair’s first stop was the Ramakrishna Sarada Samiti (RKSS) centre, located in one of the largest slums in Mumbai. Their aims were to find out about people’s energy use, lifestyle and income, as well as their most pressing needs. With local children as their translators they interviewed over 30 residents of the slum, as well as holding a focus group with 29 parents.

“The centre is a real hub of activity bringing the community together and providing much needed resources for the local area”, they enthused.

Next they visited the Ramakrishna mission centre, north of Mumbai, which provides free practical training for young people in skills like carpentry and tailoring in return for three hours work per day. It also houses a fantastically sustainable biogas plant which:

-  converts cow dung into natural gas for cooking (enough for over 400 people per day!)

-  generates some electricity as a ‘by-product’ which provides some of the centre’s power

-  produces a rich effluent waste which constitutes an ideal fertilizer for growing crops and vegetables

A trip to Pune, about 100km south-east of Mumbai, took them to the Appropriate Rural Technology Institute, where they learnt about community biomass projects and some of the astounding technology currently on the market – including a family-sized biomass digester which can run off a household’s food waste and is made entirely from commonly available parts. The company even provide a step-by-step guide of how to make one yourself!

The duo have now headed to Madurai in the south of the subcontinent, and next week will be carrying out energy assessments and interviews with the communities living in the rural villages near Tirunelveli, in the area where TCW’s first wind turbine sites are located.

Watch this space for more developments over the three weeks of the research trip, as Adam and Chloe collect more valuable insights into what kind of solutions could be ideal to help people living in fuel poverty to access an affordable, sustainable energy supply.

If you’d like to contribute to their trip, to help cover some of the costs such as translators and drivers, it’s not too late! You can visit their fundraising page here: