Himalaya & Sun

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                     This is story of every household of Nepal’s Himalayan region when you climb above 3000 m altitude. Most of household including hotels, lodges, restaurant are equipped with solar panel turned into direction of sun. Due to lack of transmission line to transmit hydro power generated electricity, solar power is only viable source of power for people living here. People are cent percent dependent on solar power to charge mobile battery, lighting small portion of house and watching selected television program. Although it is costly and provide minimum amount of power to run daily life still it is boon for them. There is no clue for survey of transmission line and searching alternative power.

                     So solar technology is not only environment friendly but it has been only hope of people to lighten their house. Thus government should be able to provide subsidy and encourage use of solar power. This is not only be Eco-friendly but also save forest from deforestation. If you want to see real life use of solar technology pack your bag and move toward Himalayas.

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Solar Training and Capacity Building : Power to the People

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                                    March 29, 2016 Before dawn of warm and fuzzy morning I woke with sharp shrill of mobile alarm at 5:00 am. As it was planned to meet at 5:45 am at Old Bus Park to move into another adventurous travel on off load leading to Dhunkharka, Kavre. The bus ride from Old bus park took us to Panauti via Bhaktapur, Sangha, Banepa. The real journey began from here accompanied by Mr. Subash Lamichane and Mr. Kancha Tamang. The 14km dusty, bumpy, narrow and scary road begun from Panauti steadily uphill climb in bus cramped with people, animals (chickens), kids crying, people yelling at each other. It was perfect like Hindi film melodrama at bus. Irony was that we were not able to get any seat through out two hours ride. Even within bus we had to wear mask and continuous shake up really made me tired. But internal motivation to go there and help people to sort things out, teach them, connect them to more reliable energy was continuously pushing me up.

                                        After travel of 2 hours we reached Dhunkharka. The bus stop was on top of hill to reach to our destination we had to go downhill and again uphill. The slow down hill walk began interacting with each other knowing about peculiar things about location. It was good to be back on hills among tress, clam and serene country side where nothing bothers you except cool breeze, birds chirp and perennial flow of river. I encountered various rural technology like water mill, hydraulic ramjet pump, fodder cutting machine, solar system. The very delicious meal was waiting for us, prepared from organic vegetables, grains crushed from water mills, cooked in improved cooking stove, rice grown in nearby fields. This was perfect amalgamation of technology with rural livelihood.

                       The training sessions began at 11:00 am. The 22 owners of solar system were present in upper floor of cowshed. It was great to see energy and enthusiasm in people. The training started with introduction of speakers and participants. The training was planned for 2 hours and following topics were discussed:

  • The initial session explained about what is renewable energy, Solar as renewable energy.

  • Participants were introduced about solar system and its components like Panel, Battery, Charge Controller and Load.

  • Installation do how and safety handling was demonstrated with system present on the location.

  • Various Procedure for Repair and Maintenance were provided.

  • Specific care handling, minor damage and quick repair locally was provided about battery, charge controller and loads.

  • Final solar power use calculation was done and how much load people can use with technology given to them was shown.

Training Outcomes

                          The people have been following malpractice about solar system handling. The solar panel were hung as photo frame in walls, no safety precaution were taken, people were brining in & out panels in rains, their perception was heat generated more power than light. About training accomplishment participants got chance to learn about each components of solar system. They are now able to assemble and dis-assemble the system on their own. The standard parameters like facing panels on south direction, keeping panels at 30/45 degrees, keeping battery far from heat source, use of loads according to power generation, sustainability of battery system, various light symbols and their meanings present on charge controller, minor repairs was provided. Overall looking after longevity of solar system with efficient use was provided.

                  After completion of training we visited two hydraulic pump operation at Chanaute and Ladkhu. We learned about bio-char preparation, its use.

                           The return was one of the most memorable journey of my life. The last seat of bus squeezed between a women with child and old grand pa. The lady by side was vomiting throughout journey while grand pa was drunk, mumbling and fumbling with words and directions. The smell from both side was killing me, as I sat contemplating about life. I endured situation, just invigorated into circumstance.

                                              This was one of my life awakening journey. What surprised me was humbleness and subtlety of people. Obviously they are cutoff from mainstream media attention still they are happy to be living there. There are numerous challenges but somehow they have managed to be living well. I hope to see better road access, sustainable clean energy supply, educational facilities, better health facilities and access to ICT be within their reach. The natural serenity shall not be disturbed, only right technology along with nature can develop Dhunkharkha.

Journey form Training to Trainer : As Light of Hope Continues

                           

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                      Energy has been one of the basic requirement of human beings. The traditional use of fossil fuel is gradually shifting with advent of cleaner and greener technology. And change in people perception and consciousness about climate impacts, global warming and green house effects. RAN (Robotics Association Nepal) is one of Nepal’s best institutions trying to promote technology for generating holistic relation between machine and human.

                             The #LIGHTOFHOPE is audacious project initiated by RAN with agenda to connect rural livelihood to basic energy use like lighting and charging system. The process is to connect rural and earthquake affected area to primary energy use. The deprivation of energy & energy crunch is not only hampering economic activities but education of students. So #lightofhope aims to bring back hope to people to re-start life. Everything is broken but there stands only hope that things will get better. #LightofHope tires to embolden resilience, empathy and provide strength to return to normal living for Nepalese people who are beyond electric grid connection.

                                The Shree Nawalpur Secondary School was place for solar training and distribution. The place being in vicinity of Melamchi, still lacked proper road and electric connection. The event was already planned and well arranged by local partner YUWA Nepal. Primary task was to train ninety student, equip them for repair & maintenance, and distribute 5W solar system with light and charging system. We could see curious, energetic and bold ninety students, school authority, local experts being in school. We were really glad despite public holiday of Saturday people were kind enough to show up. The main objective was to give introduction about renewable energy, detail about solar system, component of solar system, repair & maintenance and about how solar can good business opportunity.

                                      Personally there is great difference in being with the crowd and handling the crowd. Being in training helped me to learn and nurture self. I was always obliged and felt privileged to get such opportunities. This was time to pay back or simply spread good vibes for others. I tried as much as being basic about facts and in mean time holistic. The major point I was careful not to let voids between by talks and student listening. The sessions was quite interactive, reaching student asking them and they asking back their queries. I was able to reach their psyche to some extent inspire them to lead from grass root. It was amazing to teach, hear, learn and share among students. The latter solar as business opportunities was carried out by Binod Pangeni. This session was especially designed to promote business opportunities that can or comes with solar technology. The main idea behind this was to encourage student to find solution within country and to remind them there are possibilities as well as potentialities developing country and making money in Nepal.

                                                    The journey to and fro Sindhupalchowk was full of fun. It was great conversation with fellow travelers local resident Aunt who rose my curiosity about place, her experience after earthquake, how grateful she was to have young people like us helping them, the hardship they have been through, hope & resilience they had despite their homes were completely turned down, her future dream to rebuilt house. Thanks to volunteers from Australia and Germany for being here selflessly to be part of re-construction. It was great to catch up with you guys. Oh! Driver dai, your story and reasoning and loud music system made us inexhaustible throughout travel. It simply helped us to be cheerful. Many many thanks to Bikash Gurung dai for providing wonderful opportunity to actually go to different part and shade some knowledge I had. It was great to reach people in local level and empower them. #LightofHope continues for adding hope for rural livelihood and re-construction after earthquake, shading light raising people’s aspiration.

Cheers.

About Robotics Association Nepal.

Robotics Association of Nepal (RAN), is not-for-profit, non-governmental organization which is continuously working in the field of robotics and electronics automation since its establishment (2010). Each year we celebrate festival of art, science and technology “Yantra”. Robotics Association of Nepal has built a network of students RAN Representatives (RR).

Solar Dryer

                     The food production especially fruits and vegetables are surplus during the harvesting season, resulting in low selling price. Towards the end of the season the produce which was not sold goes uneaten or rots. Similarly, in alpine climate the food production is limited to few months in a year. Hence food preservation is important, among the various techniques available sun drying is one of common. 

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                               Basically, drying involves the extraction of moisture from the product by heating and the passage of air mass around it to carry away the released vapor. Under ambient conditions, these processes continue until the vapor pressure of the moisture held in the product equals that held in the atmosphere. Thus, the rate of moisture released from the product to the environment and absorption from the environment are in equilibrium, and the crop moisture content at this condition is known as the equilibrium moisture content. Under ambient conditions, the drying process is slow, and in environments of high relative humidity, the equilibrium moisture content is insufficiently low for safe storage. The objective of a dryer is to supply the product with more heat than is available under ambient conditions, thereby increasing sufficiently the vapour pressure of the moisture held within the crop and decreasing significantly the relative humidity of the drying air and thereby increasing its moisture carrying capacity and ensuring sufficiently low equilibrium moisture content.

                         In solar drying, solar-energy is used as either the sole source of the required heat or as a supplemental source. The air flow can be generated by either natural or forced-convection. The heating procedure could involve the passage of preheated air through the product or by directly exposing the product to solar radiation or a combination of both.

                    Solar energy is an obvious energy source to use for drying many products, particularly food crops. Many crops are harvested in the summer months and are usually dried at temperatures below 700C – a temperature which can be readily attained by solar technology. 

                     The importance of food drying is likely to increase. Nepal suffers from serious food crisis. Out of 75 districts 41 districts have food shortage and experts from the United Nations warn that the situation is bound to deteriorate. Annually huge relief funds from international and government budget is allocated for food supply in the regions with supply deficit. Further the Government figures say food deficit has tripled in recent years with most of the increase since 2009 drought.

                        A solar dryer uses the energy from the sun to dry food efficiently and hygienically with little capital investment. The dried food life may be extended to a year or more depending on the process.  In addition to foods for human consumption there are many other products we use that require drying. These include organic crops like timber and rubber and inorganic materials like paint. All of the above arguments emphasize the importance of drying in our lives. 

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                         Drying is also an energy intensive process. The shortage of energy is an issue for many countries, particularly those in the developing world. Even where conventional energy is plentiful, there is pressure to reduce the amount of fossil fuels used. Concern over global warming is universal and this has focused our attention on energy intensive processes like drying where fossil fuels can often be replaced by renewable and non-polluting sources of energy. 

Principle

                     Drying involves the removal of the internal moisture to the surface and then to remove this moisture from the surface of the drying material. The sun has been used for drying as long as humans have inhabited the planet and laying a product out in the sun to remove its moisture is known sun drying. When sun drying, the temperature of the surrounding air remains at ambient temperature, while the temperature of the product is raised by the direct absorption of solar radiation. Although sun drying is still by far the most common method of drying it does have several inherent disadvantages. The unprotected crop can be damaged by rain, contaminated by dirt and animals and/or eaten by birds and insects. Since the temperatures attained during sun drying are usually lower than in a solar dryer, drying times are longer. This usually results in poorer final quality because of color discoloration caused by enzymic and non-enzymic browning, and often because of the formation of moulds.In a solar dryer however the temperature of the air surrounding the product is raised above the ambient air temperature. Depending on the type of solar dryer, the temperature of the product may also be raised by direct absorption of solar radiation. The temperatures in a solar dryer are higher than in sun drying and this reduces the drying time and usually improves the final product quality. Crop losses and spoilage from rain and animals are prevented because the crop is protected within the solar dryer. 

Types:

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                   There are many different types of solar dryer but they can all be conveniently classified into three distinct categories depending on the mode of heat transfer from the sun to the product.

Solar Water Heating System

 

Solar water heaters are one of the common applications of conversion of solar energy to heat water. Some of the typical applications include domestic hot water, swimming pool heating and commercial and industrial hot water supplies. 

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 Generally a solar water heater consists of 3 parts – 

1. A heat collection system

A heat collector system commonly known as a collector converts the solar radiation to heat. This heat is transferred to the fluid contained within the collector unit. In a typical solar water heater, cold water is supplied at the lower side of the collector and as it is heated the warm water rises and exists from the upper side.

2. A heat storage system

The hot water from the collector is stored in the hot water tank. The tank is well insulated to prevent heat loss. Different kinds of insulation is available in the market some of the common types are Rockwool, poly urethane foam etc.

3. An auxiliary heating system 

During cloudy days an auxiliary heating system can heat water through electricity or other energy source. Normally such system is used only when required.

solar-water-heater-diagram

Type of Solar Heater System:

Typically there are 2 types of solar water heaters-

  • Passive systems, and
  • Active system

Passive system

In passive system, there are no pumps or fans used in the operation. The collector is close to the area where heat is stored or required. Natural process such as conduction, convection and radiation are used to transfer heat to the load. Passive systems are simpler and in general cheaper than active systems because they do not require the use of pumps or fans. A typical example is a thermosyphoning closed coupled of a passive solar water heater system.

passive

Active system 

In active systems, the energy is used or stored in a location away from the surface being heated by the sun. Therefore, the pump or fans are used to transport the fluid heated by the collector to the storage unit and sometimes from the storage unit to the load. A common example is solar pool heating system.

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Harnessing Solar Energy for Sustainability

o-SOLAR-POWER-facebook                  The diaspora of solar market is slowly shifting from archetype system to innovative one. Till few years ago solar technology was limited to affluent class, renewable energy enthusiast and people obtaining it as subsidy. But solar trend has changed completely in recent years. The trading business of solar as commodity is shifting towards energy service provider. People were taking advantage of solar system at home individually at high cost intact with limited knowledge and improper operating trends. The situation at rural was even worse as people were fed up with irregular solar functionality lack of access of operation. They even questioned on practicability of solar technology.

                      Roughly 20% of world’s population does not have access to electrical grid. It is costly in Nepal to provide access of electrical grid to people as if geographical diversity and environmental concern. Building grid will disturb pristine beauty of our hills, Himalayas and Terai where Tourism is major source of income for people. The grid won’t be sufficient though another daunting task will be electrifying grids which is near impossible for some certain future. The rural population still relies on expensive, low quality hazardous polluting light source such as candles, battery-powered flash lights, kerosene lamps. The use of solar system has significantly grown over years yet kerosene lamps still serve as the main source of light for many people.

               There are various barriers such as asymmetric information. The general lack of product awareness is preventing people who need and want solar system from obtaining it. The cost or access for financing solar technology among consumers can hinder market penetration. The lack of information about what is available on the market. Not knowing how to determine which products best suits an individual needs. Early wear out of system by improper handling and general distrust among people by same in rural areas.

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             Governmental institutions, line agencies and aids, donors must realize that a subsidGovernmental institutions, line agencies and aids, donors must realize that a subsidy driven market cannot achieve sustainability. We must need to encourage demand driven markets rather than donor driven ones. Banks and Micro-finance should be involved for capital investment. When people start making money from generating solar energy then sustainability takes care of itself. The technical and general operational guidance should be given to consumers for handling and increasing durability of products.

            The paradigm shift on solar business from selling solar as commodity to energy service provider can increase sustainability.The concept of micro grids, nano-grids, productive end use are trending into solar business. They are easy to handle both in financial and technical view-point wise. So solar technology should not be limited to certain user it should be diversified according to best suits. The decreasing cost, able to address current energy needs, roof tied grid system, flexible financing, reliable source encourages harnessing power from solar technology for sustainable growth.

Light of Hope: Nepal Earthquake Relief Program

Part 2: Solar Power Training and Distribution at Nuwakot11755164_1026813984004988_8875399286803849298_n

             The climate was cool and calm. Not a typical day of monsoon either with scorching sun nor with downpour. We were enthusiastically packing resources for distribution by gathering at 6:00 a.m in RAN building with team of energetic and motivated trainers. Those who were determined to deliver training and distribution of panel in Nuwakot. After arduous ride of micro bus we reached Nuwakot. The village was almost converted into ruined by earthquake leaving people desperate for daily needs. Most of people had temporary shelter and trying to normalize daily activities. The local distribution partner of Light of Hope had already determined location of training and points of distribution.

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          People were informed before hand about d-day so we could feel curiosity and eagerness on their face to know presence of us. The event was scheduled to be conducted in school premises. The building was full of cracks still we could see the student of graduate level reading tuitions from teacher. Infrequent electric supply and broken structure of house had completely jeopardize education of students. Our light of hope was counter for this infrequent electric supply.

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                          The training session was to clear basics about solar technology, use, repair and durability. The first sessions was about technology aspects followed by business potential on solar technology. The solar power was distributed on two location. The first was school where we conducted training and distribution for representative of four V.D.C’s (Raluga, Kharanitar, Sundaradevi and Thaprek )and remaining was supposed to be distributed at Samundratar & Betini V.D.Cs. Actually plan was to go along people who come from various V.D.Cs and demonstrate them in their own V.D.Cs but due to limited time we were unable to as planned.

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            The uphill, mud lagged, landslides made our journey to halt at various location. Even we had to walk few distance with heavy solar panel systems on our shoulder to reach distribution point. It was hell of experience and amazing journey to be on field and change life of people how subtle it may be.

           For me personally as engineer this was first humanitarian effort done on personal level. The credit goes to Bikash Gurung (Project Co-Ordinator of Light of Hope ) and Ghampower Technology who made us able trainer about solar systems, RAN for providing platform to nurture budding engineer to add and utilize our talent and skill. Last but not least kudos to efforts for our local distribution partner Lamichne Partisthan for providing local ground for making training and distribution effective by gathering needy and affected people.

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                                                                  Team for Training and Distribution