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Exclusive Interview: Sudha Kheterpal, Founder of Shake Your Power

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Sudha Kheterpal

Sudha Kheterpal, is the British-Indian musician and percussionist in Faithless, turned energy entrepreneur and EU Sustainable Energy Week ambassador.   She is also behind Spark, a shaker percussionist instrument that can be played during the day and will convert energy into power at night; power to provide light or the ability to charge a phone in parts of Africa with no electricity.

She has toured the world with Faithless and other huge acts, such as the Spice Girls and Dido, and understands the value of music in unifying people as well as the energy needed for performances. It was this understanding that inspired her to become a found Shake Your Power to bring clean energy and education through the power of music.

Shake Your Power is one of the founding members of the Off the Grid Club which has been developed and nurtured by EnergyNet, the pioneering energy-focused organizer of forums and collaborations designed to facilitate investment in Africa’s power and industrial sectors. Off the Grid Club provides a networking platform for technology providers and financiers working in Africa’s off-grid energy space and launches in festival style on the 23rd June with a gig celebrating African music at the Africa Energy Forum in London.

The Off the Grid Club gig (curated by Sudha) will bring together a diverse range of artists including Fuse ODG, the MOBO Award winning British-Ghanaian rapper; Imaani, the silky voice behind the iconic band, Incognito; Afriquoi, the five piece outfit fusing African melodies and rhythms with house, funky, garage and dubstep; and DJ Rita Ray, the club and radio DJ who helped to rejuvenate London’s world music scene with the Mambo Inn.

1. In 140 characters or less – what is Shake Your Power?

Shake Your Power connects people through music with Spark, the world’s first clean electricity-generating musical instrument that creates and stores energy as you play.

2. What was the driver for creating Shake Your Power – what gap did it fill?

Playing music has been my life and bringing thousands of people together through the power of music is something that has always left me with a sense of purpose. For many years I have wondered whether the huge amounts of energy created from performing on some of these stages could be harnessed and used. But there is also a deeper motivation, one aligned with a changing of the collective consciousness, to help find a new way of creating a more sustainable future.

3. Who does it primarily serve?

Spark has been designed for users living in off-grid communities, to give them the power to light their homes at night and charge a mobile phone through the power of music. The aim is to distribute Spark to rural schools in Africa as well as Spark educational assembly kits, allowing children to learn the technology around the shaker by building the component parts themselves and harnessing their own power. Children studying science, technology, engineering and music will all benefit from the application that these kits show.

4. What difference does Shake Your Power want to make?

In places like Kenya, where 75% of the population lives without access to electricity, having the ability to read at night or charge up a mobile phone gives people the chance of a better education and access to health services. Energy poverty is the world number one human and environmental crisis and it’s our desire for every child living in the world to have the opportunity to change their life. Through Spark we can teach children that interconnectivity is the way to our future and the key to the wellness of our planet.

5. What are the barriers to making that difference?

Getting access and collaboration between the right people is the biggest challenge – getting the right innovators, finance and people who will actually make a difference in Africa talking to each other. That is why the Off the Grid Club is such a fantastic and meaningful project to be a part of; because it’s working with regional leaders who can get things to happen in their country.

6. Who’s helping you overcome those barriers?

EnergyNet, Simon Gosling in particular. Their expertise, experience and ability to bring the right people together is making a real difference and will help African communities to establish the infrastructure required to move forward economically.  That’s why I am supporting Off the Grid Club which was developed by Energynet.

7. Are governments doing enough to support off-the-grid power solutions in Africa?

I think success will come from the collaboration of governments, policy-makers, regional and international investors and technology entrepreneurs – together, they will provide solutions that will really make a difference. The Off the Grid Club brings these parties together, fostering relationships between them and regional leaders and acting as a catalyst for the development of off-the- grid power solutions and energy access in Africa. The Club is determined to help Africa meet its target in the international drive for universal access to energy by 2030.

8. How can people – individuals and organisations – find out more about Shake Your Power?

You can learn more on shakeyourpower.com or check out how the Off the Grid Club (website) is making it happen. The Off The Grid Club officially kicks off on the 23rd June at the Africa Energy Forum in London with a festival-style gig celebrating African music.  

9. Where did the idea for Off the Grid Club come from?

EnergyNet developed the Off The Grid Club as a new membership programme to bring together credible off grid technology providers, financiers and regional leaders to invest in and develop reliable and scalable power solutions for Africa. The programme will provide a platform for members to form partnerships, giving them the opportunity to scale up their products and bring them to market more quickly.

The Off The Grid Club will launch at the Africa Energy Forum in London this June, as African artists come together to perform in a special gig to raise awareness of the importance of energy access. The gig is organised in partnership with Shake Your Power, one of the Founding Members of the Club. Music will be used as a way of communicating to and uniting the audience, and to recognise how commercial off grid solutions can play a significant role in electrifying Africa.

 

 

 

Energy

Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?

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sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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Energy

7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees

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As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

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