Avant Garde Innovations Creates Wind Energy in India
Based on the most recent data available by the World Bank, wind energy in India only comprises 0.4 percent of the total final energy consumption for the nation. Renewable energy calculates higher at approximately 39 percent, but there is still room for improvement for the entire clean energy sector. Hoping to fill some of the voids, Avant Garde Innovations will soon test the market with a newly developed wind turbine.

Avant Garde Innovations (AGI) was founded in January 2015 by two brothers, Arun and Anoop George. Based out of Thiruvananthapuram on the southern tip of the subcontinent, the mission of the organization is “to eliminate energy poverty, reduce dependence on struggling state power grids, and create energy self-sufficiency.” They also place emphasis on affordable, locally operated products. As such, the first move toward this goal was the construction of a windmill prototype intended to eventually replace nonrenewable energy sources throughout India, particularly in households.

AGI’s turbine is unique in its smaller size, producing slightly less energy but at a dramatically lower cost. Right now, competitors offer windmills to develop wind energy in India for about 200,000 rupees per kilowatt, but AGI’s model is only expected to cost 50,000 rupees per kilowatt – a 75 percent reduction in price! Some media sources are even boasting comparisons that a typical Indian family will now be able to install windmills to power their entire homes for less than the price of an iPhone. In terms of power, AGI expects 20 percent capacity utilization in contrast to the 25 percent capacity utilization of larger mills. However, even at this rate, their turbines can produce five units of power every day, which is plenty for the average-sized household.

For the moment, the first AGI turbine has been constructed outside of the Madre De Deus Church in Vettucaud, India where it will undergo its pilot testing phase this January. Once the trial is complete, AGI intends a full launch in the international market during the first quarter of 2017, and investors are already showing interest. The Indian government also aims to formally introduce the design by 2022.

Their updated windmill is not the only reason to find promise in AGI, however. Arun believes the patent-pending design is transferable, which could form the foundation of future projects such as hydro- and tidal turbines, and potentially even an automobile motor. The basic blueprint is also said to require little maintenance, and will still be able to generate power at lower wind speeds than competitors’ offerings.

As a result of their startup success, the organization has already been honored with numerous accolades. To name a few, AGI has been invited to attend exclusive conferences hosted by the U.N. as well as a major energy forum in Silicon Valley, California. Drawing further attention is their commitment to operating on 100 percent clean energy themselves. For the future of wind energy in India, AGI’s business model is a major step on the path toward sustainability.

Zack Machuga

Photo: Flickr

Embedded within southeastern Africa, Malawi is a developing nation that borders Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania. As a country that is already lacking resources and electricity, it should come as no surprise to know that schools are also a rarity in the nation’s public infrastructure.

During a famine in 2002, three-quarters of the population of Malawi (over seven million people) were on the brink of starvation. Such difficult times affected many, a prime example being a boy named William Kamkwamba who was living in Malawi with an impoverished family of nine, knowing full well that school was not a viable option for him at the time. He was merely 14, however, when he traveled to a nearby library, which changed everything.

Motivated by his curiosity, William dove into a book on energy and articulated a plan to build a windmill to power his home—and surprisingly, he was successful in doing so. Currently, William is 22 years old and is working to not only refine his own windmill model, but to build more of them to power other communities.

On the other side of the world, a Cornell University student named Andrew Grauer founded the company Course Hero in 2008. Andrew’s purpose was to allow greater access to educational resources in an affordable and universal manner. He was able to compile a substantial amount of academic resources and promoted the website at various universities.

Course Hero eventually went on to expand throughout campus communities across America and has now become one of the leading online learning platforms. Some key investors in Course Hero include the founders of YouTube, StubHub, Google AdSense as well as some of the earlier investors of Twitter, Foursquare and PayPal.

In November 2010, Course Hero partnered with Books for Africa to establish The Knowledge Drive and invest in the future of Africa’s youth.

As a result, Course Hero decided to donate one book to Books for Africa for every 10 academic documents that are uploaded to the website. With the help of the academic community across the globe, they have been able to donate over 100,000 books—and are continuing to do so.

Access to education is a human right though millions of people across the globe are still left out. Although there are many people working to make an educated world a possibility, there is still much to accomplish.

Course Hero is an exceptional example of what is possible when the values of universal and affordable education are spread. After all, a book is much more than it seems to be—it allows for the power to positively influence communities as in William Kamkwamba’s case, which is something that the nation of Malawi and Africa needs altogether.

Jugal Patel

Sources: Moving Windmills, Course Hero Knowledge Drive, BBC
Photo: Foctha