Main content area

Human power (HP) as a viable electricity portfolio option below 20W/Capita

Mechtenberg, Abigail R., Borchers, Kendra, Miyingo, Emanuel Wokulira, Hormasji, Farhan, Hariharan, Amirtha, Makanda, John Vianney, Musaazi, Moses Kizza
Energy for sustainable development 2012 v.16 no.2 pp. 125-145
anthropogenic activities, biogas, biomass, business enterprises, curriculum, electricity, energy, energy costs, gasoline, generators (equipment), hospitals, hydroelectric power, industry, issues and policy, mountains, nuclear power, play activities, schools, wind, Uganda
Human development and electrical energy co-exist seamlessly in high Human Development Index (HDI) countries¹ where reliability and availability of electricity is greater than 95%. In numerous low HDI countries,² there is 5–50% electric grid availability. These electric grids can have reliability below 50% due to faults and extreme load shedding. Unavailable and unreliable electric grid events are situations disconnected from a centralized grid (if the grid fails then it is off-line). In Africa, renewable energy portfolios include solar, wind, biomass, biogas, small hydroelectric power and recently nuclear energy (MEMD, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009) and are cited to meet the disconnected grid situations. However, Human Power (HP) is a missing portfolio option and, if implemented in countries with average electrical power consumed below 20W/Capita, would impact human development directly. The technologies include merry-go-round generators in schools, hand crank lighting in hospitals and health clinics during electricity outages and bicycle generators for off-grid businesses. This result is derived from (1) a new energy concept defined as PACE (People-based Activities Caloric Energy), (2) estimations from children's play — energy harvesting as free energy (3) disconnected-grid fuel costs for petrol and diesel generators, and (4) policy empowerment which is based on designing and building microgrids. These designs result from an innovative Physics and Business of Energy (PBE) curriculum, in conjunction with University of Michigan (USA), taught in Uganda at Mountains of the Moon University, Makerere University and St. Joseph's Technical Institute with an association called Uganda Small Scale Industries Association (USSIA). The HP-module is part of a multi-module curriculum for Empowering Ugandans to Power Uganda. The overall educational and design policies create a key missing gateway to co-designed and locally built microgrids. These policies are applicable in many, if not all, low HDI countries.