Post-Grid Energy: The Challenge for Design Public IV

Despite a sea change in rural connectivity and the dramatic unfolding of a mobile revolution in India over this past decade, the number of households with access to electricity remains dismally low. The conventional grid is unable to meet the increased demand for power due to both infrastructural and procedural inadequacies. In addition, the majority of power in India is generated from fossil fuels, which is both unsustainable and environmentally harmful. To overcome these challenges of access as well as impact, we need to look deeper at sustainable, nano solutions to power generation, as well as look at new domestic appliances that do not require the same threshold of power. This challenge track will examine the problem from different perspectives and seek to develop new models of mini-grids and community-generated power, tackle the redesign of the existing grid, and examine ways of harnessing forms of sustainable energy.

In addition, this session will look into not only alternative forms of producing energy, but will also imagine new ways of consuming energy. This will mean designing new forms of domestic appliances that consume less energy, as well as imagining new ways in which the appliances we used can be linked to alternative forms of energy production.

This discussion will address questions such as:
What are the unsolved challenges of the energy sector in India?
How can design and innovation help solve those challenges?
What kinds of engagement models should or could be employed?
What kinds of collaborations and partnerships are Necessary?
What will the assembled group do after this meeting is over?

The discussion will be led by several experts in this sector. These include Arul Shanmugasundram, who heads the solar business for Tata International and will be able to speak about the efforts of one of India’s largest corporations. Atul Mittal, the Director of Marketing at D.Light Design, will speak of some of the efforts of this upcoming organization which provides solar lamps to rural locations, and the kind of impact it has had, and what more still needs to be done. Abhay Garg of the Acumen Funds is a portfolio manager with primary responsibility for the Energy and Water Portfolios, and will be able to provide a different perspective – that of a funding agency – on this issue. Ratnesh Yadav, co-founder of Husk Power Systems, will talk about his own experience in designing and implementing an alternative energy producing system, which has had a substantial impact in rural villages in Bihar. Shrashtant Patara, the Senior Vice President of the Development Alternatives Group, has been working in a range of micro-enterprise development projects, rural market developments and the management of large donor funded and Government programmes. Finally, Anand Vijayan of CKS will help anchor this conversation to a user-centered design and innovation approach.

About Ayesha Vemuri

Ayesha Vemuri is responsible for thought leadership and outreach efforts at CKS. She has undergraduate degree in Visual Art from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where she also studied such varied subjects as biology, literature and the humanities. At CKS, she is responsible for curating the Design Public blog, managing our various social media platforms, organizing Pecha Kucha Nights and contributing to the intellectual content of the Design Public Conclave and other CKS initiatives. Find her on twitter at @ayeshavemuri.
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