Researching and assessing renewable energy options for rural villages in Tamil Nadu, India.
About The Converging World
The Converging World (TCW) are a Bristol-based organisation who use charitable loans to build and install wind turbines in Tamil Nadu, South India. Some of the returns from these turbines are then invested into community projects in the local area.
Since the first Converging World turbine in Tamil Nadu started turning in 2008 the charity has gone from strength to strength in its aims to continually establish and strengthen links between developed and developing communities to fight climate change. Through commitment to renewable energy investment the charity aims to create long-term funding streams that support and empower social and environmental projects in India and the UK.
Access to Affordable Sustainable Energy
One of TCW's main projects is the Access to Affordable Sustainable Energy programme. This aims to install sustainable energy resources (such as solar, biomass and biogas) for people living in energy poverty. The project ensures that local preferences play an important role in developing reliable, affordable and sustainable means of energy supply.
An essential aspect of this project is research; it is vital that we collect as much local knowledge and experience as possible, as well as understand the needs of the local people. To do this we will be travelling to India at the end of July for around 2 months, and the information we collect will ensure the project continues with a strong foundation.
Who are we?
I'm a full time Masters Engineering Design student at the University of Bristol and I first got involved with The Converging World at the beginning of November on a purely voluntary basis. I am on the committee of the Bristol Branch of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), a student run organisation that works to remove barriers to development through engineering.
My role in in EWB this year is to set up partnerships with NGOs and Charities, one of these partnerships is now running with TCW where I lead a team of Engineers to work on projects. Through this partnership I got involved with the Access to Affordable Sustainable Energy Programme and since January I have started a part time ethical internship sponsored by the University of Bristol to work on this project as the joint programme manager, responsible for overseeing the project.
I'm a Masters Physics student at the University of Bristol, and have recently finished my studies. I have a passion for working towards the development of renewable energy systems for empowering rural communities. I also act as coordinator for the Bristol-based food waste charity FoodCycle Bristol.
At TCW I'm working with Chloe on the Access to Affordable Energy project in Tamil Nadu, also as part of an internship with the University of Bristol. I first became involved in TCW in February through my experiences with Engineers Without Borders and FoodCycle Bristol.
What will we be doing?
Our trip to India will first take us to to meet with members of a local community centre (RKSS), based in a Mumbai slum, where a solar project is taking place in cooperation with The Converging World. We will undertake an energy assessment, providing key information for the project. Part of this time will be spent running workshops with the local people to educate them about the importance of renewable energies.
Next we will travel to Tirunelveli, to carry out village assessments in the nearby Muthumakamura and Kalilaspura, close to the Converging World wind turbines. We will assess energy needs and lifestyles of the local people; to investigate potential renewable energy system sites and learn about how the project could be run by the community. Throughout the trip we will also have discussions with local suppliers of biomass and biogas generators, and plan to visit similar projects in the local area.
This trip is purely a fact finding mission. We will not be installing any renewable energy systems as we are not qualified engineers or specialists in this area. We believe the key to a successful and sustainable outcome of this project lies in the strong understanding of local knowledge and an appreciation for the needs and preferences of the villages. Our trip will build the foundations for this project, and allow the work to continue with the confidence that local expertise is at the heart of the work.
From the results of our trip several energy options will be proposed to the community and discussions opened on the best way to implement these in a sustainable way. For example, starting an energy cooperative and training local people to be involved with installation and maintenance.
How your donation will be spent
The Converging World is a not-for-profit charity, so we are donating our time working on the project throughout the four weeks we will be in India. However all of our other costs will be self-funded. These costs include: international flights to Mumbai, insurance, vaccinations, visas and accomodation, we will also have to take several long journeys internally. For much of the time we will be working in rural communities where we will require both a driver and interpreter.
We approximate the total costs of the project to be around £3500. The money raised will be spent on the essential costs of the trip, with any additional funds being re-invested into the charity.
How else are we raising funds?
Through several engineering related grants we have already raised £1400. We are still a long way from our target of £3500. Alongside our sponsor craft page we are also planning several fund raising events: including the Three Peaks challenge and a cake sale.
Why are we doing it?
We are both passionate about renewable energy! Having each spent time working in the wind industry in the UK we now want to extend our knowledge to be applied in the developing world.
Chloe: Since spending the last few years heavily involved in Engineers Without Borders Bristol I have realised my passion in life is international development and applying my engineering knowledge to applications in developing communities. I want to work in the third sector and I am passionate about volunteering hoping to spend more time after graduation volunteering in developing countries. I hope this first introduction to this type of work will help me succeed in this career.
Adam: Through my experiences with FoodCycle Bristol and Engineers Without Borders I am committed to working with organisations to empower local people to install and maintain renewable energy systems. As energy sources become more and more scarce the challenge of overcoming poverty and inequality will become greater. I see the charitable sector as an area I want to work in in the future and am passionate about overcoming the 'them-and-us' culture often associated with international development, instead seeing the tackling of climate change and energy poverty as a collaborative effort for which we are all responsible.
Money Isn't Everything
If you want to help but don't have the money to spare please press the 'I want to help' button above to share our project and spread the word.
Thank you for reading and visiting our page. We will be updating it with a video and fund-raising updates in the near future. If you have any questions or would like to know more about the project please see The Converging World's website or drop us a message!