Greenpeace Grand Challenge on solar pumps in Bihar

9 Oct

Till a few years, I was rather skeptical about potential of solar pump technology to address energy squeeze in eastern India. Not so any more. And the reasons: rapid decline in costs of solar panels, which has been matched with equally rapid improvement in efficiency. Chances are, solar pumps will prove to be just as much of a breakthrough for farmers in eastern India, as diesel pump operatedshallow tubewells were in the 1970s and the 1980s. A number of small companies have come up with cost effective designs and the government of Bihar has launched a program to convert its defunct electricity operated public tubewells to solar pump powered tubewells. I have heard anecdotal stories of how solar pumps are being tested in few locations in Bangladesh. Many have asked me whether or not solar pumps can provide a long term sustainable solution in West Bengal. To me, the biggest barrier still seems to be the price, followed by portability of panels.

Greenpeace has taken this challenge head on and designed a grand challenge on designing cost effective solar pumps that can be adopted by farmers in Bihar. Their challenge question is simple: Can your design replace dirty diesel pumps in the fields of India? 

This challenge is open from 3rd September to 15th November 2013. I am on the jury of this challenge and will strongly encourage designers to come up with solutions to meet this challenge.

Read more on the Challenge here and happy submissions, folks!

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One Response to “Greenpeace Grand Challenge on solar pumps in Bihar”

  1. Dr Green October 25, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

    Solar energy is able to reach out to places far and wide where normal electricity had never reached in all these years.

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