GradImpact: Providing Clean, Renewable, & Sustainable Electricity to Sub-Saharan Africa

    Two University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate students, Mehrdad Arjmand and Aaron Olson, founded NovoMoto after winning $90,000 in the 2016 Clean Energy Trust Challenge. Arjmand, a recent doctoral recipient in engineering mechanics, and Olson, a doctoral candidate in engineering mechanics, intend to use their graduate education to help people around the world. For now, their focus is on the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country where 95% of residents live without access to reliable grid electricity. NovoMoto is a Sustainable Social Enterprise that intends to “provide clean, renewable, and sustainable electricity to the DRC and other sub-Saharan African countries in the future.”


    Through home and business solar energy systems, microgrids, and solar-powered charging stations, Arjmand and Olson believe they will be able to empower communities. As a result, more economic opportunities will be available to the region. A small energy kiosk prototype will allow NovoMoto to work with local partners and control the kiosk remotely. The plan is to set up a kiosk consisting of a few solar panels and a battery bank. Customers take a fully charged battery home, use it to charge lights and cell phones and other equipment, and return it for another when it’s fully discharged.


    In addition to providing better and more reliable access, the NovoMoto model is more affordable. “Depending on the area of the country, people now pay $15 to $22 a month for kerosene and mobile phone charging,” says Olson. “We beat it by providing electricity for $9 a month; that’s a savings of 40 to 60 percent.” To learn more about Aaron and Mehrdad’s work, visit the University of Wisconsin-Madison website.


    Visit the GradImpact Feature Gallery to learn more about the amazing, innovative research being done by graduate students and alumni across the world.


    **Photo Credit: James Runde, Wisconsin Energy Institute

    The CGS GRADIMPACT project draws from member examples to tell the larger story of graduate education. Our goal is to demonstrate the importance of graduate education not only to degree holders, but also to the communities where we live and work. Do you have a great story to share about the impact of master’s or doctoral education? Visit our WEBSITE for more information.


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