The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and a consortium of public and private partners hosted a world-wide competition entitled Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development. USAID has been providing economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for nearly 50 years, but looks to outside groups for innovative technical solutions to challenging problems facing people in developing nations.
Per USAID, “Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development (PAEGC) seeks to identify and support new and sustainable approaches to accelerate the development and deployment of clean energy solutions for increasing agriculture productivity and/or value in developing countries.”
USAID personnel knew they needed a unique combination of innovation, real-world impact, and technical capability to address the daunting challenge of powering agriculture in developing nations. In order to maximize the probability of finding this combination USAID created and publicized a world-wide competition open to everyone. They received over 450 entries. Motivo was selected as one of twelve awards due to the innovation, realism, and audacity of their concept.
Technical challenges included development of new power electronics hardware, reservation system software, cost constraints, robustness for agriculture, and financing strategies for developing nations.
Motivo proposed and is developing a multi-purpose shareable mobile power delivery system for agriculture. Consisting of a power module integrated with a small tractor Motivo’s HARVEST system provides mobility, rotary power, and electrical power from a single zero-emission platform. Based on a patent-pending power electronics architecture developed by Motivo, HARVEST collects power from solar panels, wind turbines, or intermittent electrical grids, stores that power in an on-board battery, then delivers it on-demand. HARVEST can be rented, tracked, and updated via cell network, with all user interaction handled via text messaging. HARVEST is flexible, extensible, and scalable. One HARVEST unit can plow a field, power a home, take goods to market, and pump water, all in the same day. Users can easily attach rotary power implements or plug in electric power tools for additional functionality. HARVEST power modules can be tied together to form a micro-grid with scaled up output capability. HARVEST is both a “swiss-army knife” for agricultural power, and a platform for local innovation.
Motivo is currently developing the core technologies and business models that underlie HARVEST. Areas of development include custom power electronics, a cost-effective energy storage system, wireless network connectivity, and a text-message based reservation system. Motivo is unique in its capability to develop all of these individual technologies, and the integrated system concept, under one roof. Multiple HARVEST units have been deployed in Telengana, India with ongoing in-field testing and data collection.