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THE TEAM BEHIND STG CONSISTS OF A CORE GROUP OF MIT-TRAINED ENGINEERS AND EXPERIENCED BUSINESS AND DEVELOPMENT EXPERTS, JOINED BY A GROUP OF DEDICATED STUDENTS, INDUSTRY CONSULTANTS AND ADVISORS WITH EXPERIENCE IN RENEWABLE ENERGY AND DEVELOPING WORLD MARKETS. A TEAM OF TALENTED ENGINEERS IN LESOTHO CONTINUES TO BRING STG’S VISION TO LIFE ON THE GROUND THROUGH TRAINING PROGRAMS, EDUCATIONAL INITIATIVES, AND FIELD PROTOTYPES
STG (previously operating as the Solar Turbine Group) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Cambridge, Massachusetts whose mission is to provide technical, financial and intellectual support, assistance, and training to projects and organizations focused on bringing sustainable energy technologies to communities across the developing world.
Access to energy is an imperative for development and improving quality of life for the world’s most rural citizens. We envision a future where the aspirations of these 1 billion people who currently have no access to modern forms of energy can be met without further risk to our shared environment. Further, we believe that growth in energy demand can be coupled with growth of the local renewable energy sector, fostering economic activity and creation of jobs within economies where technology businesses have traditionally lagged. In this way, we can create positive feedback loops, where energy demand supports sustainable businesses which continue to expand energy access, and where energy access improves services at health clinics and schools, improving quality of life for rural citizens who are then able to grow local enterprises and further improve their entire communities.
We believe that a multifaceted approach is necessary to tackle the challenge of energy access globally: technology development, technology training and transfer, and business model development. Our team works on all of these fronts, building strategic partnerships with governments, NGOs, the private sector, and academia to identify and pursue the most promising areas for research and development, to find and serve communities in need, and to grow the technology sector in relevant markets.
In particular we have envisioned an option for rural electrification that is affordable, distributed, and renewable and able to provide rural citizens with the same quality of service as national grids deliver around the globe. One component of this is developing technologies that can be locally customized, manufactured, and distributed to simultaneously grown local economies while ensuring long-term system maintenance capabilities. Another is creation and implementation of solar energy training courses, serving both educators (“teach the teachers”) and practitioners. Further, we enable cost-minimized mini-grid/micro-grid projects through utilization of our custom Hybrid Techno-Economic models and design tools as well as unique financing models. Overall, we aim to support the entire project chain, from human resources through to implementation details, to ensure improved energy access for the world’s citizens who need it the most.
The Idea for STG is Born (December 2001)
During his Peace Corps duty in Lesotho (2000-02), STG President Matt Orosz experienced first-hand what it is like to live in a rural mountain village with no electricity or running water. Impressed by the simplicity of a locally-constructed parabolic solar bread cooker, Matt began to experiment with ideas for converting solar energy into other useful forms, like hot water and electricity. He returned to the United States to pursue a graduate degree in engineering at MIT where these ideas were slowly formed into designs, experiments, and prototype technologies. Other undergraduate and graduate students became involved through Amy Smith’s D-Lab (Development, Design, Dissemination), the Fall 2004 2.009 (Product Engineering Process) course, and the MIT IDEAS Competition. Several iterations of collection systems were prototyped before the first field trials in Lesotho during January 2005. Funds from two IDEAS Awards and several fellowships from the MIT Public Service Center fueled development and deployment of a second field prototype in Lesotho during January 2006. Work began on simplification of the design to comply with locally-available supplies, such as air conditioning parts, plumbing supplies, and standard steel, aluminum, and hardware.
First Field Trials (January 2007)
In May of 2006, the team traveled to Washington D.C. to participate in the 2006 Development Marketplace Competition, focused on Water Supply, Sanitation, and Energy. The project was awarded one of that year’s grants for work in the Energy sector, supporting implementation of further field trials in Lesotho. Three founding members of STG spent almost twelve months during 2006-07 living and working in Bethel, Lesotho (Mohales Hoek District) implementing this grant.
Expanding Our Vision (January 2008)
Work on the ground enabled our team to recognize the many other challenges that need to be overcome to achieve success in rural electrification: competant technical staffing, a good business model, and excellent partnerships for implmementation, funding, and expansion. We thus built up our technology training and transfer program, including both internship and practitioner training course components. We took a step back to better understand the market and built up our holistic community energy delivery model. And we engaged stakeholders at all levels in Lesotho to ensure that our go-to-market plan will have traction.
Ongoing work now combines field installations in Lesotho, promotion of local technology development and manufacturing (seen here: Made in Lesotho!), technology training courses, and partner outreach to other countries where solar energy stands to have a major impact such as Tanzania, Kenya, and India. We are also currently scaling from institution-sized solar installations to minigrid solutions that can also supply electricity to households and businesses in the surrounding communities!
Fee: INR 1000/- to 3500/- Per month