For over two years, a dedicated group of HSU students and advisors has been working on the design of a “GridShare” device intended to reduce the occurrence of brownouts on power-limited mini-electric grids. Last year, after winning a grant through the EPA’s People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) Student Design Contest, three of us traveled to Bhutan to assess the village of Rukubji as a site to perform a pilot installation of our GridShares.
After receiving enthusiastic support from the Bhutan Power Corporation, the Department of Energy of Bhutan, and the residents of Rukubji, the GridShare team (Nathan Chase, Chhimi Dorji, James Robinson, Tom Quetchenbach, Kirstin Mielke and I; SERC alum Rick Mayberry; and SERC advisors, Kyle Palmer, Arne Jacobson, Peter Lehman and Eileen Cashman) worked to refine the design of our GridShares and arrange the logistics for the installation.
Following two years of design work requiring multiple prototypes, the last few months yielded a frenzy of GridShare assembly, testing, and shipping. Sponsorships from local and regional businesses helped to reduce the cost of manufacture, while many volunteers helped the team finish the assembly and testing of each GridShare to ensure its success in the field. To accompany the GridShare installation, we’ve also created a series of colorful bilingual posters and pamphlets to help the residents of Rukubji learn how to interact with the GridShare and better manage their limited electric system.
We hope to see all of these preparations pay off in the next few weeks as we are thrilled to have just arrived safely in Bhutan, along with all of our luggage and 14 large boxes filled with 120 GridShares and equipment. We will begin installing the GridShares by the end of June. Stay tuned for our fall newsletter where we will describe our experience in Bhutan and the Rukubji residents’ reactions to the GridShares.