Electricity, seemingly abundant in our world today, is something that we take for granted. The reality, however, is very different in the world.
It is estimated that 1.3 billion people still do not have access to electricity.
Electricity can mean many things for communities. Once electricity is established within a community, the access to power can lead to better health care, education, and self-determination. And prosperity soon follows.
Powering rural areas is an engineering work in progress. The remoteness of some communities means that relying on the grid is impossible.
The technologies that have been used to bring power to remote villages have historically been those which impact negatively on the environment; diesel generators have been a common source of power.
Powering the remotest villages on earth
Ladakh is inside the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir in the Kunlun mountain range within the Great Himalayas. A small number of inhabitants brave the cold in the area; Ladakh is 12,400 feet above sea level. Until a few years ago they had never used electricity.
A team known as the Global Himalayan Expedition trekked to the remotest village in Ladakh: the village of Shadé.
These wonderful and courageous volunteer engineers installed a Solar Nano-Grid to provide the inhabitants with electricity in 2017. This complimented one previously placed in the village. The first installation had never been robust enough to power the entire village.
It took the team four days to travel the 56 miles before reaching Shadé Village. The Kashmir Monitor wrote:
“The village has never received any grid based electricity. The villagers have been using Solar Home Lighting Systems and old kerosene oil lamps. In winters, the village remains cut-off from the outside world for about six to seven months. There is one satellite phone in the village, which was installed in 2013 and remains the only medium of communication between the village and the outside world.”
The team intends to provide nanogrids to surrounding villages as well. They have been working to electrify a dozen other villages in the Himalayas in an expedition that started in 2013. The citizens of the villages are understandably delighted.
The government has, however, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Centre of Development in India to get two mega solar parks built in the region of Ladakh. This will be enormously valuable to the inhabitants in the region; securing them with a sustainable supply of electricity.
To see more of the work being done in the Himalayas, here is a documentary on the projects from NDTV:
“Remotest Village in Ladakh Gets Electricity for the First Time.” Kashmir Monitor, 14 May 2015, kashmirmonitor.in/Details/129269/remotest-village-in-ladakh-gets-electricity-for-the-first-time.