MIT Public Service Center

Assessment and sustainable development of micro-hydro generation installations in Kenya

www.gpower-africa.org

Background

The objective of Green Power NGO (Gpower) is to utilize a customized Energy Access Model, while working through community based organizations, establishing construction, implementation, operation and management of profitable power generation and distribution facilities in rural areas of Africa.

Gpower establishes micro-hydro renewable energy generation- and mini-grid systems connecting 800-1,600 households per community through a customized energy access model which are co-financed, constructed, owned and operated jointly with small-scale farmer shareholders. In collaboration with astute local engineering partners and local consultants, Gpower designs, manufactures, assembles energy generation units, distribution components and builds prime structures, sub-stations and distribution networks. Gpower’s approach is environmentally friendly, cheaper than conventional micro-hydro electrification schemes, provides assets the rural communities can utilize to access credit markets, and promotes enterprise and social development.

In order to standardize the equipment and secure operational sustainability, Gpower has designed two micro hydro generation units and realized a production line in Wuhan, China with our technical partners. Students will assist in the assessment of installation efficiency and drafting maintenance and operational manuals for the 100KW Kaplan and 40KW cross flow turbine installations.

During the internship, the accommodations for MIT student interns will include a private apartment in Kianyaga town. Students will work together with Gpower engineers and trainees from the Kianyaga Polytechnic Academy.

The Challenge

Gpower, in collaboration with community-based organizations, encounters diverse socio-economic challenges within Kirinyaga district, Central Province. These challenges are principally related to lack of access to energy services comprising;

Two internship opportunities: The activities to be implemented by MIT student interns will secure the development of installation efficiency and prepare guidelines for safe and sustainable operation of the generation plants. In particular, Gpower has a need to complete the following:

Qualifications, Preferences, and Assets

Students should have a background in renewable energy systems, mechanical or electrical engineering and preferably have hands-on experience with off grid micro hydro generation installations. Ideal candidates should be fluent in English.  Additionally, the students should be conversant with CAD software and preferably Auto CAD, Solid Works, CAXA or IGS.

**Note** Although Gpower is a non-profit, the intellectual property produced by the interns will be registered under a for-profit institution and remain in ownership of the latter institution. We may offer the potential of future employment for interns, and at the very least, provide letters of recommendation to students that complete the program.

Time constraints

The projects can be undertaken at any time, however, both the student and Gpower will greatly benefit from longer participant stays. It is preferable that a student stays for at least 28 days through the January break, or the length of the summer when applicable. If you believe that you can accomplish productive work in a shorter time frame, we would be amenable to a shorter stay.

Contact

MIT students interested in this project, please contact Robert Mutsaers, Managing Director REA, at r.mutsaers@gpower-africa.org or his mobile phone in Africa: +254 731 697 738.

PSC Support

MIT students who develop projects around these ideas may apply for support from the Public Service Center’s Fellowships, Internships or Grants programs. Please check the program descriptions and deadlines and talk to program staff to determine which is most appropriate for your needs and project.

If you have funding from outside the PSC that enables you to work on this project, that’s great! However, please do let us know if you work on a project you saw advertised here, even if you don’t use our funds. And remember, the PSC staff is happy to advise on service projects even if we are not funding them ourselves.

 
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