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IEEE Smart Village and Global Himalayan Expedition Help Himalayan Students Imagine Life with Electricity

published: 2015-01-23 15:31

IEEE Smart Village announced that an “education base” it has helped equip at a Himalayan boarding school is enabling children from remote, off-grid communities of Ladakh to develop an interest in renewable technologies and explore how various clean-energy solutions can bring lasting change to their home villages.

IEEE Smart Village, formerly known as “CSI” (Community Solutions Initiative), contributed renewable-energy technologies and professional support to the Global Himalayan Expedition‘s upgrade of the Third Pole Education Base—or “E-Base”—at the Mahabodhi Residential School in the city of Leh, India. The Mahabodhi Residential School serves students from class nursery to 10th standard, including many from surrounding villages of the mountainous Ladakh region with no access to electricity. Because of its very severe terrain, 11,000 feet above sea level, the Mahabodhi Residential School had limited connectivity to the outside world before the E-Base.

“Kids would come to Leh, stay at the boarding school, learn basic science and math and then return to their homes,” said Pranav Mehrotra, an IEEE Smart Village ambassador who participated in the Global Himalayan Expedition project in Ladakh. “Now the students are working on sustainability projects including waste management, bio-diversity and clean-energy access, while sharing these innovative ideas with the local community.”

The renewable-energy technologies that power the E-Base are leveraged in student curriculum at the Mahabodhi Residential School. For example, students learn to build and use pedal-power “light cycles,” which generate 2.5 to 10 volts of electricity, from wood, batteries and bicycle parts that are all sourced locally.

“The students of the Mahabodhi Residential School are learning that they can bring renewable-energy solutions back to their home villages and participate in improving their families’ and friends’ lives,” said Mike Wilson, senior program manager, IEEE Smart Village. “Imagine the potential, long-term impact of empowering 200 future entrepreneurs from off-grid villages with the knowhow to bring renewable energy-based solutions to their communities.

Upgrading the E-Base, which was deployed in 2013, was one element of the Global Himalayan Expedition’s work in Ladakh in 2014. IEEE Smart Village ambassador Pranav Mehrotra also participated with the team in deploying a DC solar micro-grid in Sumda Chenmo, to bring reliable electricity for the first time to the village.

“These DC solar micro-grids are a first-of-their-kind installation in the Himalayas with easy to setup process and requiring low maintenance. This could be the ideal solution toward remote Himalayan village electrification,” said Paras Loomba, founder of Global Himalayan Expedition. “As these grids would eventually be owned and run by a Village Level Entrepreneur (VLE), the solution can be easily replicated in adjoining regions. The energy access acts as a great tool to enhance the income generation of the local population, by helping in the increase of home stays by trekkers and tourists alike. Partnering with IEEE Smart Village would help Global Himalayan Expedition reach out to more such remote villages and equip them with better and efficiently designed energy setup.”

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