TRAVEL NEWS: Solar Power to Warm the Remote Spiti Valley in India

During the winter, the people of the Spiti Valley used to be forced to survive without water and electricity for months together. But the Indian government is setting up a solar power plant, which could provide them electricity even during harsh winter months, when the region experiences heavy snowfall and the entire valley plunges into darkness. State government had sought assistance from the department of renewable energy to set up a solar power plant in Spiti.

Ecoshhere is helping bring solar power to the remote Spiti Valley of India

Ecosphere is helping bring solar power to the remote Spiti Valley of India

The solar efforts are being spirited by Ecosphere, a social enterprise which is a collaborative effort of the local community of Spiti and professionals from diverse backgrounds, with a wide spectrum of skills and experience, effectively spanning the bridge from the general to the niche. “Spiti Off the Grid” is one of the most challenging yet ambitious projects that Ecosphere has initiated. The objective is to develop a model of decentralized energy and enable the power starved community with green energy which is continuous and self managed. The initiative aims at providing appropriate renewable technologies to most of the villages of the Spiti valley over the next 5-7 years to enable the entire region to be self-reliant for its power needs.

The objective is also to empower the communities with the knowledge that the development of alternate/renewable power is extremely simple and ecologically sensitive than the commonly followed model of promoting big hydro power that the state has adopted. Spiti’s fate has already been decided on this front by the Govt as almost 800 MW of hydro power projects have been assessed/approved in the Spiti river all the way to its confluence with the Sutlej at Khab. It is imperative that the local community is able to defend its fragile ecology by rejecting the development of big dams in the region and at the same time propose an alternate to the govt.

Demul village solar power plant was the first experiment that was undertaken in collaboration with Sunlit Futures (A solar power company based out of Auroville) and Human Wave Italia who partially supported the funding of this initiative. Demul village is one of the remotest villages in the Spiti valley and is situated at an altitude of 4350 meters above sea level. The idea was to provide sustainable and clean energy utilizing the generous resource that is available in plenty in the region – the Sun.

With the villagers showing keen interest in setting up the plant and making both financial as well as physical contributions to its implementation,  providing 3 lights to the 50 houses in the village. The capacity of the plant is 2 KW with further scope of increasing the capacity as per the needs and demand of the villagers. The village community entirely manages the plant and collects a monthly maintenance charge which is then deposited into a community account in the local bank for future replacements and general maintenance.

To read more about Solar in the Spiti, visit the Hindustan Times.

Editor’s Note: Original World offers unique cultural immersion tours to the Spiti Valley and the Kinnaur region, including the upcoming Ancient Cultures of the Indian Himalaya, which departs in September of 2014.

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