Our energy system has provided enormous wealth and benefit to humanity over the last century. Unfortunately, this system has two main deficiencies. First, the combustion of fossil fuels creates by-products that cause environmental degradation and perturb the climate. Second, the system has not reached the entire world population.
Energy solutions that hope to meet these needs must satisfy several technical, economic, and social constraints. Considering these constraints early in the design process can avoid excessive investment in solutions that fail later.
Our projects perform evaluations of existing and potential projects to determine whether they meet the needs and constraints that exist. We use both technical and survey techniques to determine how new technologies are performing in the market.
Our projects include monitoring pay-as-you-go microgrids, evaluating the economic performance of diesel microgrids, surveying unelectrified populations, and calculating the benefits and payments of solar lanterns and solar home systems.
At the Earth Institute at Columbia University, I collaborated on the design, installation, and evaluation of microgrids that used cellphone networks for payment of electricity services. These systems showed that pay-as-you-go (PAYG) systems were an acceptable business model for consumers.
We believe there is still an opportunity to reduce the cost and increase the reliability of solar home systems. Using the measured data from customers, we have calculated the trade off between reliability and cost with larger batteries and larger solar panels.
Currently we are conducting surveys of communities scheduled to receive electricity in the coming months. We are conducting a longitudinal study with the goal of understanding electricity consumption and growth in off-grid areas well enough to help utilities select the right size for electricity generation in these areas.
If you are interested in participating in our research, please contact me by email.