The Smart Village Minigrid Laboratory has officially entered the construction phase here at the Powerhouse Energy Campus!

The present focus is outfitting the lab with the electrical infrastructure required for powering experimental equipment , like Solar Array Simulators.  Powering of Solar Simulators will be accomplished with a dedicated 650 kilowatt electrical feed, which is sufficient to power 160 typical American homes.  Installation of the conduit to contain the wires for the feed is nearly complete.  Installation of the associated 800 amp circuit breaker and wiring of the conduit will be carried out in the coming weeks.

Alison and Cavin working on SVM LabAlison Anson, Project Manager/Coordinator, and Village Assessment Survey (VAS) development worker, works with the SVM Postdoctoral Engineer/Lab Designer, Torben Grumstrup, on some of the material cutting, as pictured to the left.

Construction of mechanical support frames made from channel strut (UNISTRUT) is ongoing. Electrical distribution equipment like Circuit Breaker Panel Boards, and conduit will be mounted on these frames, and will supply electrical power to solar simulators, and other hardware needed for planned experiments.  To maximize flexibility, high power electrical wires will pass along elevated cable trays to the six experimental stations in the lab.  Much of the cable trays have already been mounted, and are ready for wiring to be installed.

The SVM Team is hoping to have the construction of infrastructure finalized by the time Rwanda delegates and representatives come to view the facility.

Check back for more updates as the construction continues here at the Powerhouse!


Lab Construction is Underway!

The Team Visits Rwanda!


SVM coordinator, Peter Means, is interviewed by Rwanda’s leading newspaper ‘The New Times’.

Our SVM team recently took a trip to Rwanda to engage with various government, university, and local officials. After many meetings and discussions, the team is able to make great steps in the right direction.

A presentation of the Smart Village Microgrid project led to many positive outcomes and was received quite positively.

Most notably was the creation of a technical committee (or task force) to develop a plan detailing how CSU and the Government of Rwanda can interact to create the best results for the SVM project.

Joseph Mungarulire, Director General at the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA) in Rwanda is very optimistic about the collaborative opportunity between Colorado State University and the Government of Rwanda towards a clean energy agenda.

The entire SVM team is excited to be able to work at such a cooperative level in Rwanda.

Dan Zimmerle, Principal investigator of the SVM project says the outcomes from these meetings “represent a very big step forward for the team”.

You can view Rwanda’s article on the SVM project here:

US investors eye renewable energy sector

Other recent and related articles:

CSU, Fort Collins, energy innovation showcased at Smithsonian

Community processing centres to drive Rwanda’s industrial development – NIRDA

And if you missed it, we were also featured in the most recent edition of CSU Magazine:

Microgrids Electrify Rwanda

Great Success at SE4All

photo credit: IISD Reporting Services,

photo credit: International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) Reporting Services

This week the United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York was filled with over three hundred government, NGO and private energy sector leaders as they gathered to hear and deliberate how best to deliver renewable energy to developing countries. All of this with hopes of jump-starting sustainable development on a global scale while simultaneously addressing climate change.

At the 2nd Annual UN Sustainable Energy for All Forum, which wraps up today, leaders from every continent gathered for four days of panels and side-meetings to discuss how to advance sustainable development, clean energy, and climate change, and how all three issues are undeniably linked. This meeting was no small gathering, over the course of the week there were at least 2,000 participants attending more than 60 various panels. SE4ALL focuses on universal energy access, renewable energy, and energy efficiency; All of which are important objectives to the Smart Village Microgrid (SVM) team. Visit to check out reports, factsheets, meeting highlights, and more!

The CSU Energy Institute and CSU Africa Center were represented by members of the trans-disciplinary SVM Team: Dan Zimmerle, Principal Investigator and Peter Means, Project Coordinator and SOGES Graduate Research Scholar.  Participating in numerous panels, the work of the CSU SVM project and the new Rwanda Carbon Neutral Pathway (RCN) project inevitably surfaced, causing no little stir and evoking many questions by participants.

These interactions were confirming to our team members that these projects are moving in the right direction and will meet a real need. We are very excited and proud to share our work as the project develops!

Lab Design Starts!

SVM_lab_home_unit_20MayHello SVM followers,

Our laboratory design team is making progress on the development of the Smart Village Microgrid laboratory! This lab will be located at the Powerhouse Energy Campus in Fort Collins, Colorado. Thanks to the Electric Power Systems Laboratory and InteGrid, we have the resources needed to create this lab. For more information check out the SVM Laboratory @

Above is a computer generated representation of a basic household load in a rural village. This depiction represents one of many “households” that will be physically created for our lab. It includes a cellphone with electrical outlet for charging and a light bulb (lighting is the highest priority for individuals living in our pilot village away from an electric grid). The large yellow box is a meter that will be provided for every household to monitor their electricity.

We have also progressed to purchasing light bulbs and sockets to be tested for the laboratory as well as determining other items to more accurately represent our load.

One item that is necessary in simulating an accurate load is cellphones. That is why we are currently asking the public for basic cellphones (preferably not smart phones or app phones) and chargers to be donated to our project. If you or someone you know is able to donate older phones with chargers or you would like more information, please contact:

Below you will see a computer generated image of what the Smart Village Microgrid lab may look like in the future. The image currently shows power distribution boxes and cable trays. As our project continues and construction begins, our goal is to create a lab that is physically accurate in terms of electricity load and technology as well as visually representative of electrification in a village setting.


We are SVM

Hello, thanks for viewing our blog!

Here we will post progress we have made on our project as well as interesting supplemental information that goes along with our project!

We are the Smart Village Microgrid (SVM) Team, and you can learn all about our project here:

Currently, we are focused on the following goals:

  • Attending the UN Sustainable Energy for All at the end of May in New York City
    • Here we will be meeting with representatives of the Rwandan government as well as relevant professionals in the Sustainable Energy network!
  • Receiving IRB approval to conduct our Village Assessment Survey (VAS)
  • Preparing for our trip to Rwanda and presentation of our project to Rwandan government officials and the University of Rwanda this summer
  • Continually seeking partners and individuals interested in becoming involved in our project and collaborating with other organizations within Colorado State University
  • Bringing Rwandan students to CSU to participate in the project and earn a degree
  • Planning the laboratory design for testing village level electricity

Be sure to check back soon for further updates and material on the SVM team’s progress!