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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Swarga Dwari: The place where Spirituality Meets Technology

                      Nepal, country of mountains and holy places, boast on natural beauty and wilderness. The holy shrine of Swarga Dwari lies in western Nepal of Pyuthan district. It is one of popular destination for hindu devotees as one can feel in temple premises. Hindu devotees flung as far as from India to get blessing from shrine.

                 The holiness of temple traces back to discovery of ancient hawan area and related puja materials. The young shepherd traveling from far western part happens to be resting on bajh(a 100 year old tree located nearby) saw a vision that place is blessed by gods and once was place for worship of god. He asked fellow herders to dig around premises to discover ancient leftovers of hawans, vessels and other holy materials. It is believed he had supernatural power of healing, spent most of time in meditation, started school for teaching holy scripts, procured land for cultivation so temple attendees and follower will never be in scarcity for food. He is regarded as very holy person, you can see his statue inside temple.

                         The other story is: this was last place visited by Pandavas from Mahabharat before moving to heaven. The Pandavas were thirsty and Arjuna took a bow, aimed in ground to withdraw sprout of water to quench thirst. Still the sprout known as Kunda is visible downhill from temple. As Pandavas spend one night here before departing to Heaven (Swarga), often devotees spend one night here.

                          The Swarga Dwari Trust arranges food and residence for devotees in various Dharmashala in periphery of temple. The per bed cost is Rs. 30 and per plate food is Rs.100. The residence hall are primitive Nepalese mud house but decent one with mattress, blankets. It is wise to carry your own bedsheets. The food is normal vegetarian which includes rice, lentil and vegetables popularly know as “gods food”.

Major Attraction

Hawan Area with Eternal Lamp

              There is 24 hours, 365 days continuous hawan. The nearby was eternal lamp, I could not see lamp but was given through instruction how it was brought by pathak (priest are called so here). It is scared place where you give ghee, rice, oil and charu (mix of various grains especially made for hawan). No photos allowed here.

Main Temple

                This is place where you worship lord Shiva which is built upon grave of guru, founder of temple. The initial worship on this temple follows with multiple temple presence on the premises.

Bajh Tree

              The tree is supposed to be more than 100 years old. The importance, holiness trace back to resting place of guru who discovered this area so holds greater significance as you can see vermillion smeared all around.

Cowshed

              There are more than 250 cows reared in cowshed. The cows are supposed to be very holy and devotees throng to feed them flours (especially Satu) and salt. The excessive feeding of salt caused death of many cow so its forbidden to give salts these day. You can just deposit it in near by specified place.

Cave (Gufa)

            The cave is place where guru use to mediate. Supposedly it was place where Pandavas took shelter before going to heaven. It is naturally built place around 20 mintues walk around the hill.

School (Pathsala for holy teachings)

             The pathsala teaches student holy scriptures for continuity of tradition. The young boys keep chanting mantras, sloks, hyms, vajans from early morning. Usually they teach 3-4 years for student with compulsory 1 year practice as priest in temple.

Water Sprouts (Kunda)

          The Kunda lies 15minutes downhill walk. The water (jal) is brought from kunda for offering to god by pathak on barefeet without being touched by anyone. The water sprouts is believed to come into existence by piercing of arrow via bow by Arjuna from Mahabharat.

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Bhairavi Temple

          The 10 minutes uphill walk will lead to Bhairavi temple. From here you can have great view of surrounding area.

Technology

         The temple houses large solar power station providing and supplementing electricity for temple premises. The solar street lamp provides durable light throughout night. The solar lightening has been helping to keep life in night as main stream supply is so infrequent. The night life felt so lively with flashing white light around premises.

             There is large bio-gas plant which provides cooking fuel for people’s kitchen. The cow poop is used for making bio-gas which is very helpful for conservation of local forest and keeping far from LPGs. The bio-gas is enough sometime supplemented by firewoods for cooking.

            The temple is located in top of hill. It is quite challenging to fetch water for people. Although pumping is done by electric motor from downhill. We can still see rain water harvesting done around top of official building of temple.

        This is great gesture of adaption of technology for facilitating devotees. Thus Swarga Dwari is holy place with blend of spirituality with technology. This can be benchmark for other holy shrines to replicate in them.

MYTH’s

  1. It is believed once temple ran out of ghee for hawan. The guru asked his follower to go to ganga (Madi River) and burrow few tin cans of ghee. The follower being surprised went to river, drew few tin can of water and came to temple. The guru asked them to pour them hawan. The follower despite being reluctant to pour, poured on gurus command, to surprise it turned to be ghee. Again after couple of months when temple had surplus ghee, guru asked them to pay back ghee to ganga. When followers poured back ghee in ganga to their surprise it turned to be water.

  2. The guru was having discussion with his follower. The very eccentric bird yellow in color came from Northern side, guru spoke in birds language with birds. The bird flew back, curiously follower asked what he had spoken with bird. The guru said that his time on earth has come to end, the bird came to notify him. After few days guru became sick, called his follower gave them all responsibilities. There was some bright yellow spark glowing out of guru which rose high above temple, and rushed into northern himalayas. The guru was found to be dead by then.

  3. There was hunter who injured deer. The deer entered temple for sanctuary. The hunter asked guru to return back deer to him. The guru said “ I cannot offer you deer as it came for sanctuary in my asharm, ask anything other I will give you”. The hunter being adamant on his claim of deer and misbehaving, manhandling guru. The furious guru gave curse(srap) for hunter that he has to die of some disease. As matter of fact that happened.

About Guru

                       The couple in some far western Nepal did not have any son or daughter. They worshipped god and were believed to be blessed by god. That they will have son who will be actual incarnation of God. The mother gave birth to son, who was glowing with light since childhood. On 6th day when mother ate meat, son refused to suck milk from mother. Since child guru was supposed to be holy. Even it is believed that we could see universe inside the mouth of Guru.

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 Cookers

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Introduction:

Nepal was once known for its dense forest, however in present only 29% of the cover remains. About 87% of the domestic energy in Nepal is produced by firewood. This percentage is close to unity in remote regions. Wood is used for cooking as well as space heating. The shortage of fuel wood in many parts of Nepal is prominent and collection has become more and more time consuming. Usually it is women and children who collect and carry wood to their home to use for food preparation. On an average, 4-6 hours a day is spent on collection of fire wood. In this context, cooking with the help of solar energy can be one of the solutions for this alarming situation. 

Solar cooking is a matured technology which many of the developing countries like India, China etc. has successfully promoted. There are several hundred thousand solar cookers in India and China.

Principle:

Though there is various type of solar cooker. The basic principle is to convert the sunlight into heat. Some of the basic principles are – 

  • Concentrating sunlight: A reflective mirror of polished glass, metal or metalized film is used to concentrate light and heat from the sun into a small cooking area, making the energy more concentrated and increasing its heating power.
  • Converting light to heat: A black or low reflectivity surface on a food container or the inside of a solar cooker will improve the effectiveness of turning light into heat. Light absorption converts the sun’s visible light into heat, substantially improving the effectiveness of the cooker.
  • Trapping heat: It is important to reduce convection by isolating the air inside the cooker from the air outside the cooker. A plastic bag or tightly sealed glass cover will trap the hot air inside. This makes it possible to reach similar temperatures on cold and windy days as on hot days.

Types 

In general there are two type of solar cooker. The box-type and concentration type.

Types-of-Solar-Cooker

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.

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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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