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Solar Energy-Related Engineering and Entrepreneurship in Emerging Market Countries

Providing clean energy for the Developing World is both an absolute necessity and an enormous market opportunity.

Greg P. Smestad, Ph.D. was invited to speak to the Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the IEEE PhotoVoltaic Society on January 15, 2015.

His talk surveyed solar energy-related engineering and entrepreneurship in emerging market countries, with an emphasis on strategies for coping with the absence of a grid.

Professor Smestad examined the concepts surrounding solar energy availability in the developing world as the key to improving societal education, health, and standard of living in under served populations.

Case studies in photovoltaic (PV) installations illustrated the interrelationships between the technical, engineering, economic, marketing, and cultural aspects of these business endeavors; with parallels drawn between the rapid expansion cell phone networks and distributed PV in developing nations. This is based on the idea of technological "leap frogging" and diffusion of ideas.

Cases presented included Grameen Shakti's successful social business model for renewable energy in Bangladesh; especially in photovoltaics.

Download the slides for Dr. Smestad's talk Distributed and Renewable Energy for the Developing World, Photovoltaics for a Billion Poor.

Results from the Talk

Greg Smestad and Sol Ideas Technology Development sponsored the mixer that occurred before his talk. Both were well attended by business leaders from Silicon Valley, including representatives from eIQ, SunPower, and TÜV. Contact with eIQ lead to two jobs for Santa Clara University graduate students Peter Stephens and Bharath Shailesh. Peter was previously involved with Dr. Smestad in the Solyndra PV panel study at SCU, and Bharath was one of Dr. Smestad's best students in his 2015 ENGR 340 class. One outcome of the IEEE talk was that Gene Krzywinski of eIQ came to the last class of that course to recruit students and to inspire them to continue with the topic in their educational and professional endeavors.

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