HSU Students Install GridShare Devices in Bhutan

Gridshare Team in Bhutan

Chhimi Dorji (left), Nathan Chase, and Meg Harper present GridShare education and outreach to Rukubji schoolchildren. Photo credit Arne Jacobson.

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.

Meg installs a GridShare device in Rukubji. (Photo credit Arne Jacobson.)

Meg installs a GridShare device in Rukubji. (Photo credit Arne Jacobson.)

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.

About Meg Harper

Meg is a research engineer at SERC and a graduate of the Energy, Technology and Policy program at Humboldt State University, where she studied the technical, environmental, economic and social aspects of renewable energy and energy efficiency development. Within this broad context, and with complimentary studies toward a second bachelor’s degree in Environmental Resources Engineering, she has been able to explore local and state-level energy efficiency and climate change policy, the technical design of solar thermal, wind and PV systems, and appropriate technology design and dissemination for international development. At SERC, Meg helps monitor the hydrogen fueling station and manage a project focused on improving the quality of electricity on mini-grids in Bhutan. Prior to coming to HSU, Meg received a BS in Environmental Studies from Warren Wilson College and has worked in the field in a number of different capacities including environmental contaminant and wildlife research, as well as experiential environmental education.