Energy [R]evolution: A Watershed Moment in India

Can your design replace dirty diesel pumps in the fields of India? €30,000 prize pool

Can your design replace dirty diesel pumps in the fields of India?


Particularly in India, many small-scale farmers work in areas where the electric grid is unreliable or nonexistent.  They need to pump water from the ground to irrigate their fields and the ubiquitous diesel pump is the most common choice.  The machines are initially inexpensive, but the rising cost of fuel and negative side effects like air and water pollution make these pumps costly and threatening to farmers’ fragile livelihoods in the long run.
A renewable energy powered pump is a logical solution: its power source is free or low-cost and greenhouse gas emissions are minimal. But the adoption of such pumps both in India and elsewhere remains low. There is currently no pump available on the market that fully meets the needs of the Indian small farmer, with an unsubsidized price low enough to compete with the diesel pumps and be adopted widely.


Task Definition

Design a renewable energy powered and portable water pump that can provide a viable alternative to diesel-driven ones. 
Entries will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Capability: how well does the pump perform compared to existing diesel pumps? How well does it address the current problems (overview here) with renewable energy pumps? 
  • Viability: does the design have broad applicability?  Is it easily usable?  Does it fit into farmers’ lives and work habits, or will it require education? 
  • Affordability: is the design within reach of farmers without relying on government subsidies?
  • Feasibility: how close is the design to being a workable product? Does it require additional technological advances or development?


Target Group

Small and medium-scale Indian farmers in Bihar state.


Mandatory requirements

Besides being powered by clean energy, such a pump or pump kit/system should meet the following requirements to be successful:

  • Portable
    • theft prevention -- farmer can take it inside the house at night and when away
    • can be easily used at different wells / by water merchants
    • easy transport for demonstration and sale in local markets
  • Robust under Bihar climate and rural use conditions, locally serviceable
  • Pump and deliver enough water to irrigate 1 hectare of typical Bihar produce (wheat or vegetables) from a depth of 5m. A micro irrigation water delivery system can be part of the system, but its cost must be included in the total system cost.
  • Total system cost must not exceed “one lakh” Indian rupees (100,000 rupees; ca. US$ 1500 at current exchange rate)
  • Assuming a groundwater table at 5m depth

For more background information on context, target regions, the rationale of these requirements and additional “nice to have” features that will positively impact evaluation of your solutions, please see our series of blog posts, especially this one.
Entries should include a sketch or rendering, expected cost, description of operation, expected water flow, and description of portability. 



There are four Challenge prizes: an Early Bird Prize, a Jury Prize, a Community Prize, and a Consulting Contract. 

EARLY BIRD PRIZE: Two prizes of 1000 Euros will be awarded to the best ideas, as chosen by the jury and Greenpeace, submitted in the first four weeks of the Challenge.  

JURY PRIZE: A panel of Jury Members will select three Jury Prize winners. In order to guarantee successful implementation, we are looking for solvers that are willing to personally participate in the further development of their solution in India, such as prototyping and in field beta-testing / design iteration, and will pursue, with the help of Greenpeace, the scaling-up and commercialization of their pump in India. If you are not willing / capable to fulfill this, please state on top of your idea description: “not eligible for Jury Prize”.

COMMUNITY PRIZE: The Community Prize includes 9000 EUR to be divided among the top 10 ideas as determined by community voting.

CONSULTING PACKAGE: Greenpeace will select one or more Jury Prize winning entries for further development.  The submitters of the Entries will receive a consulting contract with the Organizer of up to 5,000 EUR to support development of prototypes and presentation at a Prototyping Workshop in India. Licensing remains tbd between submitter and manufacturer.

By participating in the challenge, entrants agree to the Official Rules.


Jury and Experts

Similar to other Public Projects, we have an official advisor panel consisting of 12 (!) renowned jurors and 2 subject matter experts that will support you throughout the process. The jury you'll find listed to the right; experts are Emma Jane Bloomfield, Senior Strategist position at Purpose, whose work spans from public engagement strategy to social enterprise solutions, Caroline Howe, who works with communities around the world to develop locally-relevant, financially and socially sustainable solutions to environmental challenges, and Anudeep Yadav, expert and believer in solar energy with an electrical engineering background. 

Besides our Project Guide Jesko who is going to do the Community Management we are happy to introduce Stefan as our new Expert Guide from jovoto's site that will support you with his profound feedback, knowledge and background in energy and process engineering. Say hello to Stefan in our blog here.


And as always, please register / log in in order to participate in the project (submit an idea, comment or vote).


Show older comments (62)