The village of Rukubji is located in the center of Bhutan, a country in Himalayan Asia.
Rukubji, and the surrounding villages of Bumiloo, Sangdo and Tsenpokto, consist of approximately 90 households connected to a ~35 kW micro-hydro system. Rukubji currently suffers from daily brownouts during meal times when large appliances, such as rice cookers and water boilers, are in use. This ability to shift the largest loads made Rukubji an ideal location for a pilot installation to evaluate the potential of the GridShare technology to reduce brownouts in village scale renewable energy systems.
For the pilot installation, the team designed, tested and manufactured 120 GridShare devices. The construction and assembly of the GridShares was made possible by a People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) Phase II grant from the EPA as well as a number of local and regional sponsors (see GridShare History). In collaboration with the Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC) and the Department of Energy of Bhutan (DOE), the team installed 89 devices in June of 2011.
During and after installations, the team talked with members from each household to ensure they understood how the device worked and who to contact if they had questions or problems with the device. All reported problems were resolved while the team was in the village and the preliminary results are promising.
Many residents expressed their excitement for the project and stated that the LED lights were very helpful in indicating when they can cook rice, one of their staple foods. These devices will be monitored through 2012 to determine their effectiveness, reliability and the degree of user satisfaction. If successful on this small scale, GridShare technology has the potential to increase the viability of renewable energy mini-grids in communities worldwide.