Best Ideas 2020 features all the nominated entries submitted under ‘Submit your Idea’ category. All the entries consist of innovative solutions or propositions for an enterprise that champions the Sustainable Development Goals. They can be on the conceptual, planning, or start-up stage.
Solar Micro-grid as a Business Model for Enhancing Profitability of Small holder Farmers
Explain your idea in details:
Millions of farmers in South Asia in off-grid irrigation land are using diesel pumps to lift groundwater, which has implications to climate change. The running cost of diesel pumps is too high as compared to solar pumps. Due to poor quality of grid voltage, many farmers in grid area are also shifting in diesel pumping to lift groundwater, even though there is potential to use electricity. Existing solutions in practice is individual solar pump, which needs higher cost for installation. The grid voltage in most of Tarai area of Nepal is very poor. Voltage is even poor (Minimum up to 120 volts instead of 220 volt) in agricultural areas due to long distance from transformer or overload. Farmers are suffering from motor burn cases frequently. Many farmers are repairing motor in every six months which is decreasing the efficiency and power factor too. There is a huge loss in electricity and money. Solar micro-grid (MG)for small-holder farmers, who cant afford to pay high installation cost individually, is an economic and sustainable solution of water pumping in both grid and off-grid areas. In this model, a group of farmers within a distance of 1 to 3 Km are organized in a group. A proper sized solar farm will be install at appropriate location. The MG converts DC power to standard AC voltage. The output from the MG will be taken to individual pump house of the farmers. The same solar panel can lift the water from large number of pumps within 1 to 3 Km radius. Since, a small holder farmers lift water for a very few days in a month, a single pump can be shared by a large number of farmers as per need. The excess energy can be used in Milling, Battery Charging, Cold Store etc.
Expected impact of your idea on sustainable development
The solar MG, which brings together all components of Input, Converter, Output, and protection in a single device, will be of 15 kW output. It means about 5 to 10 numbers of 1 to 2 horsepower (Hp) pumps can be operated in series. We can go for larger size MG too if the demand is higher. Furthermore, it is also possible to operate larger size pumps (5 HP or over) as per demand. The farmer groups can purchase pumps in group and they can use it according to their need. They can share pump in daily basis. In a particular project designed in Chitawan district, we propose only 8 pumps of 2 Hp capacity to connect to MG. All 8 numbers pumps can be operated in parallel too. In overall, a single MG can replace 40 numbers of diesel pumps that are currently in operation. The idea here is to connect MG into other end-uses of energy to maximize use of excess solar energy and therefore works as a standalone MG. With more water available, the hypothesis is that farmers would be encouraged to cultivate three seasonal crops in a year whereas in many places, they are cultivating maximum two crops in a year as of now. If grid is available, the more excess energy can also be supplied in grid ensuring more income for the farmers. It also help in distribution loss reduction for grid utility. Reduction in diesel consumption, increase in agricultural yields, contribution on global climate change mitigation and change in farmers socio economic life are the measurable outcomes of the project.
Plans for implementation and sustainability
1. Identify suitable Rural Municipalities/municipalities who is interested to be a part of this initiative on cost-sharing basis (50-70%). Organize farmers in a group through a couple of interactions by making them aware about the initiative, their role, and potential benefits. Priority would be given to the women farmers groups from marginalized communities. The farmer groups can manage remaining cost from microfinance/banks as the agricultural loan with local government as a guarantee. Farmers can re-pay the loan as monthly installments for 2-4 years. The re-payment comes by collecting the money by selling of electricity to their own water pumps. The cost reduction by replacing diesel pump would be sufficiency to pay the cost of electricity form MG. 2. Now days, the rural municipalities are providing dedicated technical staffs for supporting farmers in technical problem. The MG owner groups will technically assisted by MG installing company and municipality too. 3. The real time data of the MG and Pumps can be collected buy Internet of Things (IoT) system inbuilt in MG and Pumps. By this method of data communication, the real time support to farmers can be provided by municipality or MG company.
Ms. Kamala Dhakal, M.Sc., Physics, (Date of Birth: 1987) has 10 Years' experience of working in Renewable Energy Technologies in Nepal. She had completed her schooling from a rural village of western Nepal. As a daughter of small land holder farmer, she is well familiar with rural life. After graduation, she decided to work in energy end use based consultancy business and started a company, Aastha Engineering Solution Pvt.ltd., in 2010. Currently, she is directing a startup company, Kinnovation Trading Pvt.Ltd. solely dedicated to trade of green technologies. Awards and Honors: Finalist Award, Business Plan Competition on women in renewable energy business, by CTI, PFAN & ICETT Bangkok, 2017 Outstanding Award, 8Th World Water Forum, Deugu, Korea for providing innovative solution on water purification by Modified Bio Sand Filter, 2016 Speaker, Asia Clean Energy Forum, Asian Development Bank, Philippines, 2017 Speaker, World Youth Forum, Sharm EI Sheikh, EGYPT, 2017 Speaker, the First Regional Conference Women in Power Sector Professional Network in South Asia