Zeel Maheshwari, assistant professor of electrical engineering, examines meeting these needs.
Dr. Zeel Maheshwari received her Masters and PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Oklahoma State University in Dec 2013 and Dec 2017 respectively. She has been working as an assistant professor at Northern Kentucky University since August 2018. Her research areas include integrated renewable systems, smart grids, microgrids and artificial intelligence.
Smart Integrated Renewable Energy Systems for Remote Communities
Globally, nearly a billion people lack clean drinking water, reliable electricity and a safe way to cook their food.
The traditional way to address those deficiencies is piecemeal. Electricity, for example, may arrive in remote communities by way of rural electrification, as it did in America as part of FDR’s New Deal. Unfortunately, such grand scale approaches are impractical for many of the world’s isolated villages and towns.
Today, smaller projects bring electricity to remote places using batteries or wind or solar power. But electricity is only one need. It does not directly address the fact that about 1.3 million people (mostly women and children) die prematurely because of indoor pollution from burning biomass such as fuelwood, charcoal, agricultural waste and animal dung to cook.
My co-researcher, Dr. Rama Ramakumar at Oklahoma State University, and I have proposed a new model: Smart Integrated Renewable Energy System, or SIRES for short. It employs local resources to energize rural areas — not just electrify them.
The hallmark of SIRES is the smart integration and use of renewable resources. SIRES recognizes the interdependence of community needs. A decision made in one of those sectors impacts the other sectors.
A small, local dam might provide a water source while also providing hydropower for electricity. Likewise, biogas obtained from biomass, such as food waste, can also produce electricity locally and without the pollution brought by a large power plant reliant on fossil fuels.
Electricity, in turn, is required for water treatment, distribution and pumping. It’s also needed for food processing and storage, and to operate small-scale industries that bring jobs.
SIRES is flexible and adaptable. Its configuration can be modified depending on available resources and local needs. Introduction of SIRES in rural communities improves the living environment, community welfare and employment opportunities to the local people.