How the Himalayas are Lighting Up With Solar Power


Solar energy is making headway in some of the most remote areas of the world, places where diesel fuel is hard to come by, and electric power is sorely needed for light and communication to other parts of the world. Now, thanks to a company called Global Himalayan Expeditions (GHE), even the most far-flung parts of the planet can have access to cheap electric power.

22 Himalayan Villages Go Solar

GHE has succeeded in providing reliable, affordable electric power to perhaps the most remote mountain villages and communities in the world—the Himalayas. The company has installed 95 DC solar-energy storage microgrids, producing 19.6 kW in the 22 villages of India’s Kargil and Ladakh provinces. Many people living in these distant villages have never had electricity. One can only imagine the surprise and delight of villagers who suddenly have 2,000 LED light bulbs in 60 LED streetlights illuminating homes and pathways. Not to mention the convenience of watching world news and entertainment on 36 LED television sets. In fact, the microgrids have improved the lives of 5,130 Himalayan community residents. In addition, an estimated 8,200, mainly mountain hikers and explorers who have passed through these villages during the past three years, also benefit from access to electric power for light and communication.

Adding Home-Stays and Income to Villagers

Designing, engineering and installing the DC solar-storage microgrids drew on the combined talents of many experts in a diverse array of disciplines. The remote villages in India’s Kargil and Ladakh provinces can only be reached via a four to five-day hike on foot. And that’s just to reach a vehicular traffic road. So the logistics of getting equipment and supplies to these villages created quite a challenge. Working with local village residents, GHE built 15 fully electrified mountain home-stays, which can be used by both villagers and hiker/explorers. The home-stays have created quite a boon to villagers helping to increase tourism income by as much as $24,000.

Reducing Kerosene Carbon Emissions by 157 Tons

Villages once heavily dependent on kerosene now have an emissions-free alternative to generating electricity. The power distributed by GHE’s microgrids means villagers spend far less on kerosene, which, in turn, has reduced annual carbon gas emissions by 157 tons.

Maintaining the Solar Momentum

To keep the sustainability ball rolling, GHE has set up education centers and an e-based online distance learning program on sustainable living and commercial enterprise. So far, the company has trained 35 villagers to be solar technicians. These new green jobs will help ensure that solar-energy storage microgrids will keep running for years to come. GHE currently draws on the skills and talents of 43 villagers to help with expeditions, village surveys and solar grid installations.

More Villages to be Electrified in 2017

GHE has an aggressive roll-out when it comes to electrifying these remote villages. In 2017, the company plans to install solar-storage microgrids in Ladakh province’s remaining villages, which at this point, amounts to roughly about 30 new microgrids. Future plans also include bringing solar-storage microgrids, communications technology, educational and other resources to neighboring mountain communities in Nepal, to Kazakhstan and Peru. A handful of hard-to-reach villages in northwestern Nepal lack electric grid access and can only be reached via arduous 10 to 15-day trek. GHE’s goal is to bring sustainable, emission-free power to the world’s most remote communities. Efforts to electrify these mountain communities with emissions-free power generation mark the beginning of a worldwide drive to “solarize” the planet and get everyone off fossil fuels.

Be sure to check them out if you’re interested in lending a hand and gaining some solar-storage microgrid experience, or if you’re simply eager to trek out to some of the most remote and awe-inspiring mountain villages in the world.

Posted on Thursday, December 15th, 2016