Global Finalist EBL Competition at Baltimore, Maryland 2019 – Reflection
What the EBL competition is about?
Empower a Billion Lives (EBL) Competition by IEEE and PELS challenges teams from around the world to develop innovative solutions that can bring cost-effective energy, and its life transforming impact, to billions of unserved and underserved people. The competition encourages a holistic approach to help develop new energy access solutions, and to prove out new business models that show impact and scale that can be achieved with solutions that are economically viable and environmentally sustainable.
Empower a Billion Lives Competition can include individuals from academic institutions, start-ups, research labs, NGOs, and large corporations. There are 2 categories (decentralized and centralized model) and 2 tracks (commercially available solution and emerging solution) for each category which makes the total of 4 tracks.
Background and problems
Most of the people with lack of electricity access live in rural areas of developing countries. Moreover, most of the rural poor depend on agricultural activity for providing the main source of their income and employment. The lack of electricity access for farmers in rural area is very concerning because farming area is generally located far away from the household. So, even if the farmers have the electricity access of any kind for their house, their farming area is still lacking the electricity access. Thus, farmers are more likely to wait longer for the reliable electricity access in rural farming area.
Our journey to the finals
Team Apollo won the track 1B (decentralized model and emerging solution) for Asia Pacific region. After winning in the regional round, we must conduct a field testing to be eligible to participate in the Global Final Round in Baltimore.
We did our field testing since December 2018 to August 2019. Our field testing site is Perengdawe Village and Wonogiri, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. We implemented our solution in the fish farming community in the village.
We are incredibly honored to be invited as one of 23 global finalists. The 23 global finalists are screened from 483 teams from all around the world.
Our solution, results, and impact
We proposed an overall system solution for rural off grid aquaculture farmers. Our solution includes aeration system, solar power system, monitoring and controlling system, and communication system. With this solution, farmers can have a reliable electricity access, increase the dissolved oxygen in the water, and stabilize water pH and temperature.
Farmers could use the electricity access for their household use, community use, and productive use. With the aeration system, farmers could increase the fish production in quantity and quality. With the cleansing mechanism of the aeration system, the harmful effect of the wastewater could be lessened. Farmers also could save money from buying fuels and increase their income earning potential.
We proposed a cross-subsidy model. We found that the essential technology that the fish farmers need is the same regardless of their size. They will use the same technology to address different problems. For instance, small-scale farmers need the aeration system to grow bigger and higher quality fish and the big fish exporter company need the aeration system to keep the fish alive. This finding inspires us with a cross-subsidy scheme. So, we can provide our technology to serve small-scale farmers with lower price and big companies who can afford our solution at higher price.
Final takeaways: EBL Competition
We learned a lot from this EBL competition. After finishing our field testing, we closed a business deal with our first client. So, this competition definitely pushed our team to make our solution a reality.
Even though we did not win in the finals, we did not come home empty handed. We are so inspired by all the winners and motivated to continue our journey.
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