Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

Development Plan of a Sustainable Micro-Hydro Power Plant and Distribution System for a Tribal Village Cluster in Rural India

EPA Grant Number: SU833528
Title: Development Plan of a Sustainable Micro-Hydro Power Plant and Distribution System for a Tribal Village Cluster in Rural India
Investigators: Lall, Upmanu , Husko, Chad , Misra, Sid , Ranade, Pratap
Current Investigators: Lall, Upmanu , Danton, Craig , Husko, Chad , Ranade, Pratap , Vaghela, Dipti
Institution: Columbia University , Barnard College , Gram Vikas
Current Institution: Columbia University , Gram Vikas
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Project Period: August 31, 2008 through August 31, 2010
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2007) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Energy , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Columbia University Engineers Without Borders (CU-EWB) is developing a sustainable micro-hydro power plant for the Badi Trika Gouda village in the Indian state of Orissa. The community currently relies on firewood and animal waste matter for lighting and cooking. Our partner NGO, Gram Vikas (GV), is leading an initiative for a comprehensive community development program. Micro-hydro power will provide an environmentally sound solution to further the development of the community.


CU-EWB will innovate in three main areas. A) Pioneer a scalable rural energy program with Gram Vikas (GV); B) Simplify, strengthen and streamline the micro-hydro process, encompassing village empowerment, engineering design, and project implementation in a two team environment – CU-EWB and GV; C) Develop a wiki site with technical documentation to facilitate wider public access to the technology.


Our core value of 100% community involvement ensures direct involvement of the villagers, especially women, in all stages of the project. The project will provide a sustainable energy source, enable the community to support and develop local industry, and foster economic development in a manner consistent with the goals of sustainability. By reducing the community’s dependence on carbon-based fuels, the project will reduce air pollution and significantly improve health.

Expected Results:

The deliverables from Stage I of the project include the selection of a village cluster with full community support, the collection of a corpus fund, and the estimation of the power potential and design parameters. The design process relies on topographical data, stream flow data, and text and library research.

The project will introduce sustainability and micro-hydro principles and maintenance skills to villagers in Orissa as well as train socially and environmentally responsible engineers at Columbia University. Public outreach will be addressed through the development of a wiki page.

Supplemental Keywords:

micro-hydro, sustainable, energy, livelihood generation, rural, tribal,

Progress and Final Reports:
Final Report