Two Innovations Using Renewable Energy Win $100k Each from Intel

Mobile solar computer classroom photo

Mobile Solar Computer Classroom in Uganda. Photo via Intel

Intel has announced the winners of their INSPIRE•EMPOWER Challenge, which was launched in San Francisco last summer. The competition required developers to come up with innovative ways of applying technology to major world issues from poverty to the environment. Four winners have surfaced, two of which use renewable energy to reach their goals of bridging the digital divide.Each winner receives $100,000 from Intel to put towards their projects. Over 200 ideas were submitted from 44 countries, and were evaluated on impact sustainability and innovation.

Mobile Solar Computer Classroom (MSCC): Eric Morrow, executive director of the Maendeleo Foundation in Uganda, operates a computer-lab-on-wheels that takes teachers to multiple schools each week to provide PC skills, training to up to 100 children per day. Topped with solar panels to re-charge the computers, the MSCC is a modified SUV with a foldable tent, tables, chairs and 15 Intel-powered classmate PCs. The foundation hopes to open the doors to better paying jobs and to spur an African-owned and -operated computer services industry to boost local economies, decrease unemployment and help alleviate poverty.

Rural Livelihood Enhancement: Bibek Chapagain, Clean Energy Group director at Winrock International, has proposed a Rural Livelihood Enhancement project to deliver information and communication technology (ICT) services to rural communities in Nepal. To address the lack of grid electricity, the project will utilize renewable power from micro-hydro stations and solar photovoltaic panels. The goal of the project is to bring about economic development and improve access to energy, education, employment and information in remote areas. The ICT service centers will serve as computer labs for students and will be open to the public during off-school hours to provide services to the community.

Each day it is more apparent that portable renewable energy is a key factor in getting people living in rural areas on level ground with the rest of the developed world. It's great to see Intel rewarding people and groups who include sustainability in their approach to providing information equality.
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