All posts by IEEE Smart Village Staff

IEEE Smart Village Supports New Solar Ventures in India

By Monica Rozenfeld

When Tara McCartney first learned about IEEE Smart Village more than a year ago, ISV was just investigating possibilities in India. McCartney understood the country’s infrastructure and policy challenges as the founder, in 2013, of United for Hope, a nongovernmental organization that helps people in rural communities access clean water and electricity, and IEEE is now providing seed funding and technical know-how. A partnership was born.

Together, ISV and United for Hope have devised a plan to deliver solar electricity to some 100 homes and 30 businesses in the Kushinagar district of eastern Uttar Pradesh, India’s most densely populated state. The venture was launched through the for-profit company Shakti Empowerment Solutions (SES), which has agreed to run the business and employ local workers to supervise solar-power stations. United for Hope is training the workers to maintain the stations and educating locals on using the service. “I was keen to work with IEEE,” McCartney says, “because it understands the importance of a holistic approach to helping people in rural communities stand on their own two feet.”

Most rural communities in India are connected to state grids, which often are unreliable, with power going out for several days at a time. As a pilot project, SES is working with IEEE Smart Village to install a solar-power station in the village of Tirmasahun, with a population of about 4,000. The station will be equipped with photovoltaic solar panels to charge portable 12-watt-hour battery packs that are rented to residents and small businesses.

The batteries are lithium ferrous phosphate for lighter weight and up to 10 times the life of sealed lead-acid batteries. The packs come with two prewired 3.5-watt LED bulbs, each one equivalent to a 25-watt incandescent bulb. Both LED bulbs can run for 14 hours, or one alone for 31 hours. The pack also includes a cellphone charging port. The price is comparable to what villagers would pay for disposable batteries and kerosene which, when burned in a lamp, can be harmful to health.

Because families in India’s rural communities often live with relatives, one battery pack in a household could bring electricity to about eight people.

By bringing a solar-power company to such communities, the venture not only creates jobs, it also allows businesses to stay open longer and students to study at night. In two years, McCartney expects to provide service to at least 10 villages, and up to 60 villages in five years.

This article original appeared in a January 16 issue of The Institute.

Half Marathon, Full Support!

While the electrical energy we generate comes from the sun, a group of ISV volunteers generated support for our programs with their muscles! IEEE staff and volunteers running on behalf of the IEEE Foundation raised more than $7k leading up to the annual Rutgers Half- Marathon Run, which took place on April 9, 2017.


PowerAfrica 2017

IEEE Smart Village ISV was well represented at the 2017 PowerAfrica Conference in Accra, Ghana. This year’s theme was Harnessing Energy, Information and Communications Technology for Affordable Electrification of Africa, and ISV co-founder and chairman Ray Larsen was featured as a keynote speaker.

Nearly 50 ISV program partners, energy entrepreneurs, and volunteers from around the world gathered for workshops and the opportunity to share lessons learned, hear about newly developed and piloted ISV technology for their microutilities, and discuss challenges in the field. True to our mission of providing support and mentorship to those doing this critical work, ISV is pleased to have sponsored travel for nine individuals to attend this prestigious event.

Everyday Engineers


In my role as an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Seattle University, I’ve learned that successful engineers are constantly challenging themselves and learning new things. Although the basic principles of math and science remain unchanged, engineering solutions for the developing world must be adapted for the local community.

That’s where my work with IEEE Smart Village comes in. I serve on the ISV Steering Committee, but I am also the President of KiloWatts for Humanity, which mentors and helps ISV partners get their projects off the ground. Enabling electricity access, entrepreneurship and education can be challenging in the developing world, but fostering the exchange of knowledge and best practices among our partners is very rewarding. I’ve also had the opportunity to visit communities before and after an electrification project is completed. Villages that were once dark at night are now illuminated, with radios and TVs playing late into the night, connecting residents to the outside world.

While many become involved in this work to “give back,” many engineers I know are amazed at how much they learned and grew as professionals!


I am an electrical engineer and love working with IEEE Smart Village as a
volunteer. My favorite part is working with energy entrepreneurs to electrify undeserved populations. I have worked with ISV for the last four years as part of the Forum for Sustainable Operations and as part of working with new entrepreneurs to launch viable businesses.

The most rewarding part of this work is seeing the positive transformation of a community through rural electrification. It’s not just providing units of energy, it’s improving the lives of people through community development. This empowers communities to do more projects, even those not energy related. Through this process, I was surprised to learn how much demand there is for refrigeration and freezing. That was an unintended consequence of providing power; ice preserves fish and meat, making it easier for people to bring perishable products to market. This allows them to make more money because less of less spoilage.

I encourage all engineers to get involved with Smart Village because you can use your knowledge, and learn new skills, to provide energy to people in less economically developed countries. It’s very rewarding to know that you can make a difference in improving the lives of others.

ISV on the Small Screen

On June 6th, 2017, the sixth episode of National Geographic’s critically-acclaimed series BREAKTHROUGH aired in 171 countries and 45 languages, and prominently featured the work of IEEE Smart Village and partner organizations to bring solar power to an ancient monastery in the Himalayan mountains.

Viewers witnessed a team of dedicated engineers, hardy volunteers, and ISV’s staff employee made an arduous trek across the high Himalayas to install 14 DC microgrids in a remote monastery village.

The National Geographic BREAKTHROUGH production team
captures the drama of lighting up the Lingshed Monastery in the Himalayan Mountains.he team was organized and led by Paras Loomba, the passionate founder of Global Himalayan Expedition (an ISV partner). ISV provided funding for the project.

Thanks to this episode, millions more people have become aware of the important work that ISV does to alleviate energy poverty around the world. With new access to
electricity as well as educational and entrepreneurial opportunities, these individuals have made a lasting impact on people’s lives.

You can view the episode at