Masdar Institute Students to Work in India’s Varanasi District on Community-based Energy/Water Projects

September 21, 2018

24 Students from Energy and Poverty Solutions Course to Collaborate with Local Development Organizations during Week-Long Field Trip

Abu Dhabi-UAE: 19 March, 2012 – Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, an independent, research-driven graduate-level university focused on advanced energy and sustainable technologies, today announced a group of 24 students accompanied by faculty will visit Varanasi in northern India to work with communities on projects directly related to energy and water issues.

Dr Scott Kennedy, Associate Dean for Research, Masdar Institute, and students of the Energy and Poverty Solutions Course will be in Varanasi from 24-30 March as part of a field trip to address important energy and development challenges for this region. The projects are expected to benefit more than 2,000 people in three different communities in the Varanasi district. They are being developed in consultation with local non-governmental organizations with significant experience in the region. The Energy and Poverty Solutions Course has been in operation for three years now.

The communities in Varanasi have been chosen in consultation with Human Welfare Association, a non-governmental organization that is operating with the community, and Husk Power Systems, an energy company that works on biomass gasification based-power systems in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Preliminary studies of the villages have found that the communities get electricity only for a few hours daily and the primary schools lack proper sanitation, safe drinking water and educational material in addition to poor infrastructure and inadequate facilities. The students’ team led by Dr Scott Kennedy will work towards improving living conditions in and around the communities. They will also engage with the local energy company, Husk Power Systems, to seek ways for technical and business model improvements.

The Energy and Poverty Solutions Course focuses on the design and prototype construction of compact, robust, low-cost energy systems including micro-hydro, solar, wind turbine generators, and biomass cooking options. Through workshops and case studies, students learn design methodologies for creating flexible, adaptive, and robust technologies and systems analysis tools to evaluate technical, economic, and social implementation challenges. Students also get the opportunity to travel to a developing country during their Spring break to identify and implement the projects. The Varanasi project is part of this initiative.

Dr Kennedy said: “The project in Varanasi will be a good learning experience for the students to understand and design sustainable projects in energy and water management. We aim to build a long-term relationship with our local partners and share new knowledge with other organizations to expand these efforts nationally and internationally. The field trip will effectively enrich the experience of the students and enable them to learn collaboratively with the people of these communities.”

Some of the projects previously undertaken by the Energy and Poverty Solutions Course include the enhancement of a micro-hydropower energy system for a rural village in Borneo, an analysis of water supply options for rural areas in Somaliland, and an assessment of energy needs and opportunities for a residential compound near Lusaka, Zambia.

The Energy and Poverty Solutions Course is part of the Engineering Systems and Management program, which is an interdisciplinary field that brings together experts in engineering, design, economics, management and policy to teach and undertake research into large-scale complex systems. The program aims to create corporate and government leaders that can effectively deal with global energy and sustainability challenges that involve large scale systems.

Established in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Masdar Institute integrates theory and practice to incubate a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, working to develop the critical thinkers and leaders of tomorrow.  With its world-class faculty and top-tier students, the Institute is committed to finding solutions to the challenges of clean energy and climate change through education and research.