Dec 20: REC Group, a European solar photovoltaic (PV) panel company, has lined up initiatives to bring clean energy to communities that were previously reliant on polluting sources of power. In cooperation with Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE), which leverages tourism to provide clean energy and digital education access to remote communities, REC Group has contributed its solar panels that now generate energy in remote villages and schools in the Ladakh and Zanskar regions of India.
According to a news report, many of the communities in these sparsely populated regions have no access to grid-based power, and therefore rely on either very old solar lanterns or kerosene lamps for lighting. The REC solar panels have brought to every household in the villages basic access to energy, including LED lights in all rooms, street lights for the common areas and much better lighting in schools.
The remoteness of the regions presented a major challenge in terms of logistics. With many of the villages around four or five days’ trek distance from the nearest motorable road, the villagers themselves carried panels and the rest of the equipment to the installation sites. The 50 REC solar panels were installed on the ground and on villager’s roofs by GHE engineers, it said.
The operating model is designed to keep communities independent. Three villagers from each village were trained to operate and maintain the system, and a Village Electricity Management Committee of two to three villagers serves as a single point of contact for activities related to the grid, including collecting rentals. A service centre is also setup in the nearest city to service all the grids with trained engineers.
The efforts of REC and GHE have delivered impressive results, directly impacting over 1,500 people. 12 kW (50 Panels) of clean solar energy has replaced polluting sources: the initiative is expected to eliminate 9,000 liters of kerosene per year and 22.8 tons of CO2 emissions. The region now has basic energy access for lighting that is not just cleaner, but also brighter: the overall improvement in lighting in both households and schools is 500%.
In schools, the solar installations also power computers and displays, giving students access to offline internet content as well as interactive video content and TED talks. Schools already report a 30% increase in the learning aptitude of their students and their knowledge of basic concepts.