Technical training for off-grid energy
with Henry Louie
(KiloWatts for Humanity / University of Seattle)
We speak with Henry Louie, Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at University of Seattle, and author of 'Off-Grid Electrical Systems in Developing Countries'. We discuss the technical considerations of off-grid electrical systems, common pitfalls or misunderstandings in practical applications, his work with non-for-profit organisation 'KiloWatts for Humanity' and the importance of considering the potential negative impacts of well-meaning efforts.
We discuss the technical considerations of off-grid electrical systems, common pitfalls or misunderstandings in practical applications, his work with non-for-profit organisation 'KiloWatts for Humanity' and the importance of considering the potential negative impacts of well-meaning efforts.
(1:30) Henry Louie's background, how he started working in the off-grid energy industry
(6:00) Background to the textbook: intended audience, why he wrote the textbook, and the need for a single textbook to pull together the key technologies and concepts for off-grid energy sector
(11:00) Typical sources of training for people working in the sector
(14:30) Other types of training events that Henry Louie has provided, and what he typically covers
(16:40) Factors to consider when selecting the generation source for off-grid systems (considering wind, diesel, solar etc.)
(22:50) Common misconceptions or misunderstandings encountered in the sector (over-engineering systems, over-reliance on surveys to estimate electricity load)
(29:20) His work with Kilowatts for Humanity (KWH); reasons they separated the non-profit from the university and the importance of ensuring long-term commitment to off-grid energy projects; the importance of using local installers; how to ensure sustainability of off-grid systems
(37:50) Quick introductions to some electrical concepts:
Grid tied inverters
(41:40) Process of writing the textbook
(44:50) Other considerations for off-grid energy systems, e.g. use of donated equipment, ensuring the use of local installer companies and the need for capacity building, the potential unintended consequences of good intentions.
(52:40) The choice of 'developing countries' for the title of his textbook
(56:20) Where the name KWH came from
(57:15) Recommended books: Out of Poverty by Paul Polak; The Impact of Electricity: Development, Desires and Dilemmas by Tanja Winter
(59:15) Hopes for the off-grid sector in the next 5 years: the need to talk about e-waste; the ethics of switching off systems when payments are delayed.