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Quality Life From Off Grid Energy {The Anchor Business Community Model}

Having access to electricity shouldn't be the only objective but it should be well utilized to gain the most out of it and create a sea of possibilities. Community owned micro-hydro plants are widespread in parts of Nepal. However, they are often tremendously under-utilized, and the electricity generated is used only for modest lighting of homes and charging mobile phones. This is not the best use of scarce capital resources.

Photo of Eraj Rajbhandari

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The Anchor-Business-Community model refers to three categories of customers for electricity.  
The Anchor customer requires continuous electricity for its 24 hours of operation.
 The Business customer requires power during its manufacturing operations which can be operated when the least tariff is charge being a productive end use.
The Community customer segment refers to households and “non-productive” users who require electricity for household purposes.
In general, the consumer segment is divided into three parts having their individual demand and tariff rates fixed according to the time of consumption instead of supplying electricity on a flat rate basis to the whole community.
This encourages the community to generate skillful activities not only providing them with employment opportunities but also equipping them with valuable skills along with being able to use modern devices and quality communication medium. Moreover, rural communities can develop  productive end uses of the available energy such as mills, workshops, bakery and other activities in addition to the availability of electricity for household use and for supplying anchor loads.

What about the anchor loads?

It’s not just about establishing a quality communication medium in the rural area but also providing a guaranteed inflow of revenue for the investor.

What community does this idea benefit and who are the main players?

Microgrids are usually located at regions where the national grid cannot connect under cost effective conditions. Without access to electricity, day to day activities are difficult. Such communities are the victims of poor quality living trying to adapt with the unavailability of critical resources due to its geographical location or being isolated from urban areas.
Such was the condition at Barpak, Gorkha until they had access to electricity due to which anchor loads could also depend on along with the use in households and productive end uses. However, it was not just the access to electricity but the technique for its efficient consumption that accelerated their rate of development drastically.

How does your idea specifically help your community rapidly transition to renewables?

There are communities in Nepal which lack the availability of electric energy and communities where micro grids are already established and yet they rely on the use of coal and other natural resources. Our scheme encourages efficient consumption, rapid development and replaces the need of consuming natural resources.
The existing micro grids or national grids that supply energy to communities don’t have such schemes with demand side management i.e structuring the load by charging different tariff rates for various time of consumption. So why not establish a structure of consumption if it makes a system more reliable and productive.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

A proof of this scheme already exists in a community called Barpak located in Gorkha district in Nepal. It provides an output of 130 kW to the community consisting of approximately thousand households. The attractive part is that this scheme provides an uninterruptible supply of electricity at a cheaper rate than what is provided by the government. However, the main point is that the community experienced rapid development after availability of facilities like bakery, mills, cable television, metal workshops and internet.

Our vision is to replicate this proof in other communities through collaborations and implementation.

What skills, input or guidance are you keen to connect with from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

Any form of input is welcome. It may be ideas that provide incentives for communities to implement this scheme or replacing an asset that they need daily by another that consumes renewable energy instead due to which they might prefer the consumption of renewable energy and even any comments regarding the post.

Please indicate which type of energy is most relevant to this post:

  • A type of energy not listed

This idea emerged from:

  • A Group Brainstorm


Join the conversation:

Photo of Anandeeta Gurung

The idea seems great! Considering how we Kathmandu people are suffering from power cut offs, it feels great to learn about Barpak . The bright lights, booming businesses and life at ease due to electricity makes me envious. Good luck to the project team!

Photo of Shuting Zeng

Yes I agree Anandeeta! I have been to Nepal for volunteering at an orphanage. Seeing kids working around candles really made me feel bad. And greetings Eraj and team!! I am so excited to see this project about Nepal together with other projects about Nepal here on OpenIDEO! And I really love how this anchor business model puts such a great focus on enabling customers' activities for productivity. One tiny friendly tip here: it may be great to clarify or number out things you try to improve in this anchor model, which is the intention of this initiative on OpenIDEO. From what I read, I think you are here looking for feedback about replicating this successful model to another area in Nepal (ah yayy I am so happy for you!). So then, is there any specific help you hope to get? What can I do for you, team?!

Regarding incentives for other communities in Nepal to adopt this, I will suggest the team to give a powerful display of the economic and social achievements Barpak has achieved! Or, how about asking the Barpak community to spread the word themselves? They can tell their stories about how great this energy project is and what changes it brings to them, and they can also share their connections with your team so then you know better what could be the best next place for this model. Let there be more pictures, statistics, and stories about this successful story and more power behind this project!

Also, it will be great if you guys can update the post with some key steps you took in the Barpak community which make this project so successful. So in that way we may also know how to make better feedback :)

Ah last, I also really love this project's awareness of revenue back to investors: that is, so far, one of the most convenient incentives we can apply, isn't it? Look forward to this project's another success!

Photo of Anandeeta Gurung

Hello Shuting! Nice to hear you worked in Nepal for sometime. I hope you had a wonderful time :)

I totally agree about how Shuting has mentioned about the social and economic achievements made by this community. I am very sure they have lots of stories to tell. Let there be more voices from the community too. Random snippets, anecdotes from the community members would itself be a great way to start with. The advantage here would be the feeling of intimacy with the community member (however virtual it may be).

I also went in this village and was mesmerized by the natural beauty of this place and the hospitality of the people too. Maybe the team can use vivid pictures of the community to make the idea more alluring. I'd be happy to help in anyway possible!

Photo of Shuting Zeng

Hello Anandeeta so happy to know that you share similar thoughts and passion for this project! Do you mean you have been to the village Barpak ? If so that would be great! If you could go again, I will suggest you become a photojournalist for this great project and help the community do their story telling with details, context, pictures and inspirations for the future!

Photo of Anandeeta Gurung

Yes Shuting! I did go there with Saurav dai and the other members on a program called StoryCycle. I have done few story telling myself of the wonderful journey from the capital city to Barpak. You can find them here :)

Photo of Shuting Zeng

Dear Anandeeta, thanks so much for sharing your blogposts with me. I enjoyed reading them! The stories are of proper length with nice details and pictures. I have a tiny suggestion about the title of your blog: "mistakes" are such a harsh word and maybe you can replace that with words such as "Movements" "Motivations" or "Moods" haha.

Story telling will be very powerful on great platforms such as OpenIDEO. You could adapt your great original writing into different kinds of story telling for different purposes, such as fundraising. Have you tried to use any of the international fundraising platforms for the Barpak project? Here are some websites in case you haven't and are interested to find out more:
A website that allows people to do micro-lending.

Alternatives to Kiva:

A new funding website:

Fundraising websites:

And here, on OpenIDEO too! Why don't you pick one or two workers or community members you know of, and start writing about how this Barpak project has made an influence on them, on the individual level? Like a journalist, you write about their stories conclusively yet with details. Then you can insert them to this OpenIDEO initiative, to help it get more feedbacks and impact! What do you think?

Photo of Anandeeta Gurung

Thank you for the suggestion Shuting! I will consider it. With OpenIDEO initiatives, what could be the further possibilities to reach to these communities? If there are more feedback and impacts, what does this lead to in the end? Please let me know :)

Photo of Shuting Zeng

Hello Anandeeta,

I am glad you are going to consider many new opportunities enabled by Internet these days. And you have asked great questions! Let me try to explain them better!

OpenIDEO is a social innovation platform for people to collaborate on prototyping ideas and forming projects. You can contribute your research and ideas here, pose your questions and seek other OpenIDEOers' feedbacks. You can browse other research and ideas, get inspirations, interact with the community by commenting, and possibly find your teammates. Think about it as a network of people passionate about designing for social good.

You don't need an OpenIDEO initiative to participate in online funding platforms. You can start an account and submit your initiatives on other platforms. Like OpenIDEO, the websites I mentioned are open to the public. Yet by participating on OpenIDEO, you will make new connections, get great information, and improve your initiative. For example, you can learn about how to design a user experience map/illustration, how to make a social business model, how to do market research and refine your idea...etc. With a better model and idea, your initiative will stand out better and get more opportunities to be helped across all platforms. OpenIDEO also likes to see you turn your ideas into action -- so you should feel free to act and experiment with ideas you have, such as creating a website for this project, starting a fund-raising campaign, approaching NGOs which may provide resources for this project, etc.

I just found this article introducing funding for social good websites:

This is a website that helps you build your social business model:

You can find many successful ideas which get many feedbacks and before that have gone through many updates. Being a winning idea on OpenIDEO, such a successful social innovation design social platform, will certainly make your initiative get a better momentum to impact! Please check out this winning idea from one past challenge for reference:

This is the link to OpenIDEO FAQ:

Hope this helps. Also, OpenIDEO sets up different phrases to facilitate the improvement and formation of a good idea. So soon, after feedback phrase, OpenIDEO will announce winning ideas to go into the next stage. Good luck with this project!

Photo of Natalie Lake

Hi Saurav and Eraj,

First of all, that video was amazing. Did you guys work with that project? It was such a great way of showing an entire community's reaction to 1 project. There was such a diversity of people interviewed and I love that it also included interviews who weren't afraid to admit they were hurt a little by the project (the original millet grinders, etc.)

For your guys project, do you have specific communities in mind where you want to build these micro grids? Are you planning on working with hydro as well or other renewables? I think you could make an incredibly beautiful user map out of that video also. The video does a great job of explaining the benefits but a user experience map would make a nice addition to your idea.

Thank you for sharing your idea and that incredible video.

Photo of Saurav Dhakal

Hi Natalie - Thanks for your valuable feedback, We are working in this Barpak Project and wants to replicate this model other part of communities, we are looking for community partners for that, We can love to go for hybrid base on the location. We also work on user experience map - Thank You .

Photo of Natalie Lake

Wow that is so neat that you guys are working on the Barpak project! I forgot to link this idea above but you guys might be interested in talking with Matt about his idea for local micro grids. He wants to use hydrogen storage so that part of your ideas is a bit different but I figure that with regards to the organization of and how you can sell micro grids to communities, you guys definitely have a lot to discuss.

Will your other pilots be in areas near Barpak? Looking forward to your updates!

Photo of Eraj Rajbhandari

Hello Natalie,
The credit of the video solely goes to the team of storycycle as they beautifully presented the scenario at barpak after electrification.
Regarding other pilot projects, we do have a vision of replicating this model over existing or new microgrids and it might be an effective model even for grids based on other renewable sources. Our objective is also to scale up this project considering the growing demand of the community and to electrify other communities close to the grid.
And thanks for sharing the link. We will post our views on that soon.

Photo of Natalie Lake

Hi Eraj,

Sounds great! Okay last thing, sorry i keep thinking of other things to share with you guys! Nathan and Patrik are taking a hard look at incentives to try and come up with an incentives references guide. They might be able to offer you guys some insight into your community incentive quesitons :). That video was seriously amazing but it is also because of how great your project is. Sorry for all the comments, just excited about your project.

Incentives guide-

Photo of Eraj Rajbhandari

Hmm. I agree that the incentive guide will be useful. We are looking for specific solutions that can be a perfect substitute in fact a better one. I shall follow their idea and hope it provides us with what we are looking for as it grooms.
And please feel free to post any other links or comments.
Thanks for all the input as well.

Photo of Saurav Dhakal

Can we edit it and add video and pic