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Thursday, 04 April 2013 22:28

Our Awards

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e.quinox is a student-led organsation and therefore we rely on sponsorship and awards to fund our projects. Since we started in 2009, we have secured grants and won several awards. These include:

 

  • - GE Ecomagination
  • - JPMorgan Give-it-away
  • - Total Skygrant
  • - IEEE Grant for 2011/2012
  • - IEEE President's Change the World Award
  • - Professor John Lever Memorial Award, Imperial College London
  • - JPM Good Venture Award
  • - IC Trust
  • - Old Centralians' Trust

Also various grants from IEEE and Imperial College London

Thursday, 04 April 2013 22:19

'Four Pillars'

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While the core values are unalterable, the four pillars of e.quinox are interchangeable. Nevertheless, they cannot be removed altogether, and all e.quinox projects must fulfil them to a certain degree. While some projects can endorse some pillars more fully than others, they can never fully ignore either one of them and need to always deliver at least some aspects of them. In essence, these are guidelines which form the ‘pillars’ upon which every project is built and these are made to ensure projects avoid drifting off course from the general vision of e.quinox.

 

Humanitarian NGO

One of most basic characteristics of e.quinox is its non-profit nature. The organisation aims to tackle real world issue (rural electrification most notably) by developing innovating solutions to help solve these problems. Furthermore, achieving sustainability is of utmost importance both in the operations sense and the environmental sense. It is crucial that projects are long-lasting and do not create any long-term problems. It is also important that environmental concerns are factored into e.quinox projects and the organisation always strives to produce ‘clean energy’ and have minimal environmental impact for large scale projects. It must also be ensured that ‘true value’ is given to the customers using e.quinox schemes, and that all members act professionally and take the needs of the people they are working with very seriously. Finally, following from the open-source nature of the organisation, great importance must be given to ensuring others may learn from what e.quinox has achieved and develops. This would allow the ideas and solutions being developed at e.quinox to benefit a greater number of people.

 

Student Engineering and Learning

This pillar flows directly from the second core value. As the organisation is student-run, it must ensure its members are given an invaluable experience throughout the project. Ensuring students learn and improve their skill-set while involved with e.quinox is of great importance. Projects should be giving students the opportunity to apply their classroom knowledge in real-world scenarios and see the introduction of products all the way through: from the planning stage to the implementation stage. This gives valuable engineering as well as entrepreneurial opportunities for students that cannot be understated. By providing the opportunity of taking on many responsibilities, e.quinox wants to create future leaders that can influence changes in the world. Encouraging students to push on with their ideas and even spin-off into full-fledge businesses is one of e.quinox’s primary goals.  

 

Business Model

In order to ensure that external entities are inspired by the ideas being pursued by e.quinox and are encouraged to push them forward, projects must be worthwhile from an economical perspective. As previously explained, projects should always aim to be self-sustainable during operations, generating enough income to be run without any external capital dependence. Going forward, projects should also aim to generate a return on investment in order to encourage more people to pick them up and replicate them in a larger scale. As such, smart and effective business models must be put in place in order to also ensure that the products are affordable to the end customers and answers their needs without abusing this position of power. This is why e.quinox is categorised as a ‘social enterprise’ and not a regular charity organisation. Projects must always be well budgeted and planned in order to be executed professionally and timely, so that funds have the greatest possible impact. This is why business plans with strong financial models are required from every project prior to their implementation.

 

Market Research and R&D

This pillars flows directly from the third core value: the open source nature of e.quinox. The organisation can sometimes be defined as ‘student run R&D-lab’, it aims to use the creative minds of students in order to come up with innovative solutions that can have a real impact on people’s lives. Products should of course be built to a high standard and thoroughly tested before being implemented on the ground. The problem with global issues such as rural electrifications is that they often go unnoticed by large corporations. Rather than seeing this as a crisis, e.quinox sees a challenge and an opportunity to open up a new market: the ‘pre-grid market’. But due to unavailability of general information in this field, e.quinox aims to ‘take the first plunge’ and try to obtain as much data as possible on all of its implementation while also sharing them with the external community. The main goal is to remove the ‘initial barrier to entry’ for entities wishing to setup business relating to this field in order to accelerate the rate of rural electrification.  

Thursday, 04 April 2013 13:21

Vision & Values

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e.quinox is a non-profit, humanitarian project that hopes to bring cost-effective, sustainable development to rural communities.

 

Our Vision

We strongly believe that technology can be a solution to many of the problems we face today. Our goal is to give communities the means to help themselves. Our project aims to develop a business model which is financially sustainable - designed to recover for the initial investment made for the energy kiosks over a few years.

 

Our values

These are the very essence of what makes and defines e.quinox and cannot be changed without good reasons. If the core values shifted away from the following three points, then e.quinox would lose its very meaning and become a different organisation. It is of fundamental importance that all projects and members embrace these values to the fullest and that the general path the organisation follows does not deviate from them.

 

Rural Electrification - e.quinox was started with the aim of helping poor communities by providing them with what is regarded in this day and age as a right to have access to. Electricity has the potential to change lives and is the very reason why e.quinox came into existence. Providing electricity can grant people with access to lighting, communication, heating and many other benefits. This is why electrification should also never end at the supply of energy. Electricity should always be looked at as a foundation upon which many other needs of people can be fulfilled. Electrification needs to always translate into empowerment of the people who obtain access to it.

 

Student Run - e.quinox differentiates itself from other organisation by being completely student-run, without any professional intervention. This allows the organisation to tap into the creative minds of students and give them the opportunity to have a real impact on people’s lives. Students are able to experience first-hand what it is like to run a relatively large organisation affecting people’s everyday lives, giving them an incredible experience and valuable skills. This also gives members a relatively large flexibility and the opportunity to develop their ideas and interests.

 

Open-Source - e.quinox is being constantly drawn by different sides by the two previous core values: It remains impossible for e.quinox to physically achieve large scale rural electrification projects whilst remaining student run. The emerging solution is the third core value, the open-source nature of e.quinox. Instead of aiming to physically implement new projects, e.quinox aims to inspire entrepreneurs and external societies to take up its ideas and implement them on a larger scale. The organisation actively promotes sharing its work and discoveries to anyone willing to promote rural electrification by any mean. This is done with the aim of ensuring that the innovative solutions being pioneered by the members of the organisation our able to reach a truly global impact.

Friday, 16 November 2012 20:05

Energy Kiosks

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The concept of an energy kiosk was our first steps towards finding the blueprint solution to rural electrification. 

 

What is an energy kiosk?

It acts as a centralised hub and is an essential part of the solution, which consists of 3 parts: generation, storage and distribution.

Generation - Depending on the consumption, different sizes and numbers of solar panels are installed on a metal frame which is then connected to the roof of the buildings. The wire are combined and connected to the devices in the kiosk. In our Rugaragara kiosk, hydro power is used instead.

Storage - To prevent power shortages and access to electricity at night, big storage batteries are installed, that are charged during sunshine. To manage the power flow we use a charge controller that is connected between the solar panels and the storage battery as well as an inverter. The inverter enables the system to use all kind of low power devices in the kiosk.

Distribution - Small battery boxes are used to make the electricity "portable". Locals can then sign up to our renting scheme to use the boxes and exchange them for a small fee back at the kiosk once emptied. Click here to find out more about our battery boxes.

 
Business Model

The energy kiosks are maintained a shopkeeper, selected and trained by e.quinox from a variety of applicants. The shopkeeper is responsible for maintaining the electrical system, recharges the batteries and deals with customer affairs.

As mentioned above, the battery boxes are given out to customers against a small deposit as well as a fee upon recharge of the battery box. Once a battery is depleted, customers can return to the kiosk and exchanged for a fully charged one. This effectively provides a “Pay as you Go” service, hence making our solution affordable to poor families in rural areas, while covering the costs for equipment maintenance and salaries. 

By additionally providing a full lighting solution, the battery boxes also offer a cheaper and safer alternative to expensive and hazardous kerosene lamps, which are currently widely used in areas like rural Rwanda. The pricing of recharges is also selected to be competitive with such sources.

 
Our Kiosks

We currently have 5 kiosks across Rwanda and Tanzania. Find out more about each kiosk by clicking on the links below.

Thursday, 15 November 2012 13:26

About us

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Tuesday, 06 November 2012 17:27

Hydro Kiosk

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Hydro Kiosk

After two years of planning and design undertaken by the e.quinox hydro team, the realisation of a fully operational pico hydro powered battery box distribution scheme is finally complete. This project saw students from the disciplines of civil, mechanical and electrical engineering come together in order to deliver the hydro project over three months during the summer of 2012. The pico hydro system has a potential to generate up to 6KW of electricity.

Phase A of the project was completed in September 2012, the following year will see our team plan and design for the next phase of the project which aims to capture the full power output of the system as well as construct a distribution line to a local school. 

Project Phase B: September 2012 – September 2013

- Installation of 6KW bespoke twin jet pelton turbine and spear valves.
- Construction of 2km distribution line from kiosk to local primary school.
- Installation of lighting and laptop charging equipment at primary school.
- Transfer battery box charging system from kiosk to the school building.
- Installation of bespoke e.quinox hydro controller for pico hydro systems.
- Distribution of a further 120 battery boxes into local community.
- Installation of full e.quinox data logger system in order remotely measure status of the civil, mechanical, and electrical system.

e.quinox has had the privilege to work with some extraordinary partners and industrial sponsors on this scheme. The project has been generously funded by the IEEE presidents change the world foundation, general electric have provided additional resources and research grants, Hilti provided specialist tools and equipment, whilst KIER provided personal protective equipment in order to keep our team and employees safe during the construction process. E.quinox would like to thank all those involved in making this project the success that it has become and we look forward to working with our partners in the future. This project was a collaborative design between e.quinox and Dartmouth Humanitarian Engineering (DHE) of Dartmouth College, USA. Since our organisations meeting whilst on the ground in 2010 it was decided that our mutual interest in Rwandan hydro power should allow us to collaborate on a pico hydro scheme. The last two years have seen our two organisations work together whilst at our respective institutions in order to complete the preliminary design work for this pico hydro project. Our first meeting was in Rwanda just days before the commencement of construction.

Tuesday, 06 November 2012 17:27

Hydro Project

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After two years of planning and design undertaken by the e.quinox hydro team, the realisation of a fully operational pico hydro powered battery box distribution scheme is finally complete. This project saw students from the disciplines of civil, mechanical and electrical engineering come together in order to deliver the hydro project over three months during the summer of 2012. The pico hydro system has a potential to generate up to 6KW of electricity.

Phase A of the project was completed in September 2012, the following year will see our team plan and design for the next phase of the project which aims to capture the full power output of the system as well as construct a distribution line to a local school. For information of Project Phase A that has already been implemented, please visit our Kiosk page.

Project Phase B: September 2012 – September 2013

  • Installation of 6KW bespoke twin jet pelton turbine and spear valves.
  • Construction of 2km distribution line from kiosk to local primary school.
  • Installation of lighting and laptop charging equipment at primary school.
  • Transfer battery box charging system from kiosk to the school building.
  • Installation of bespoke e.quinox hydro controller for pico hydro systems.
  • Distribution of a further 120 battery boxes into local community.
  • Installation of full e.quinox data logger system in order remotely measure status of the civil, mechanical, and electrical system.

e.quinox has had the privilege to work with some extraordinary partners and industrial sponsors on this scheme. The project has been generously funded by the IEEE presidents change the world foundation, general electric have provided additional resources and research grants, Hilti provided specialist tools and equipment, whilst KIER provided personal protective equipment in order to keep our team and employees safe during the construction process. E.quinox would like to thank all those involved in making this project the success that it has become and we look forward to working with our partners in the future. This project was a collaborative design between e.quinox and Dartmouth Humanitarian Engineering (DHE) of Dartmouth College, USA. Since our organisations meeting whilst on the ground in 2010 it was decided that our mutual interest in Rwandan hydro power should allow us to collaborate on a pico hydro scheme. The last two years have seen our two organisations work together whilst at our respective institutions in order to complete the preliminary design work for this pico hydro project. Our first meeting was in Rwanda just days before the commencement of construction.

Monday, 01 October 2012 22:26

Get involved

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e.quinox is not just about electronics and batteries. Our team consists of both engineers and scientists – taking part in different teams within e.quinox, from technical to finance, from marketing to business strategy. e.quinox's team members have the chance to tackle real world problems while applying their skills learnt at university. They can also see their hard work resulting in an impact on peoples’ lives in Africa, an opportunity that is usually very rare to university students!

 

To find more about e.quinox, visit our main page: www.e.quinox.org

Contact us: Use the form here

Attend one of our meetings: Every Tuesday 6PM, Gabor Suite, Level 6, EEE Building, Imperial College London.

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