Return to Odisha
Walking out into the early morning humid heat of Bhubaneswar, representatives of Scene and the University of Edinburgh (UoE) returned to Odisha to see the first iteration of the new platform – Urjaa Samadhan.
With dramatic progress over the preceding months, project partners, eKutir, based in Bhubaneswar, have produced the first stage release of Urjaa Samadhan. The visit, planned to market the platform and identify local pilot scheme partners, would see two weeks of organisation, discussion and unexpected strikes.
Urjaa Samadhan – First Look
On arrival, the platform was displayed and tested alongside the Scene team – with eKutir’s SMS gateway functioning perfectly. Using a bespoke android application, team members were able to successfully log solar service jobs, from request to completion, through the system in a matter of minutes.
Alongside the platform, Urjaa’s new website was created to provide an overview of the project. With maps showing an overview of the Odisha off-grid solar situation, the platform offers a first insight into the way entrepreneur and user requests will appear once the platform is fully operational.
With field testing impending, a first feedback session was arranged. Bringing together representatives from TERI, SELCO Incubation, and a group of local solar supply entrepreneurs, the session allowed potential users to test out the system and provide feedback. Much debate and interest surrounded the platform, resulting in several potential new changes and additions to the platform in the future months.
Smart Solar Supply Chains
Having met with potential users and interested parties, the focus was shifted to the trip’s main event – Smart Solar Supply Chains.
Organised to bring together key players in the off-grid solar industry, this one day conference began with an unexpected problem. Learning the previous night of a nationwide transport ‘Bandh,’ the conference had to be delayed by 2 hours to accommodate for new travel plans. After a hot and exhausting walk to the conference venue, the project team were delighted to be greeted by an exceptional number of attendees, all having made similarly arduous efforts to attend.
Addressing participants’ concerns and problems in off-grid supply chains, the event kicked off with presentations from Vijay Bhopal (Scene), Jamie Cross (UoE) and Ashis Sahu (CLEAN). With ongoing and lively debate throughout the room, the conference provided a platform for intra-industry communication and aimed to kick off future partnerships in the off-grid solar sector. Key issues surrounding the provision of after sales services and spare parts were voiced by multiple participants, showing a recognition that there is a need for improvements in the after sales supply chain.
With strong interest in the Urjaa Samadhan platform, several key solar suppliers and supporters were keen to discuss the platform further. Potential partnerships will hopefully grow out of these discussions, and feed into Urjaa’s pilot studies which are planned for early 2016.
Interest and feedback from throughout the solar supply chain has greatly enhanced Urjaa Samadhan’s strength, and major steps were made towards platform completion and initial deployment.
All in all, a successful trip.