1. Solar Sisters Installation Volunteer Crops (Ongoing since 1997)
Solar Sisters is one of the only programs in Nepal which has sustainably facilitated clean renewable rural community electrification by installing subsidized solar electric systems in remote community-owned buildings which are used for local development. Each installation project is made possible by foreign volunteers who travel to Nepal and subsidize a solar electric lighting system, participate in a training and installation course and then travel to the field to visit a village where they install the systems they have donated in one of the world’s most unique philanthropic engaged eco-tourism programs.
In these volunteer programs, participants typically spend one or two weeks in the field installing the solar electricity system in beneficiary village centers. Participants work in small teams in collaboration with local villagers and an experienced renewable energy technician. During the program, village stays are arranged for volunteers and cultural exchanges are emphasized. Since the inception of the Solar Sisters Program, over 150 community centers, health posts, monasteries and schools in several districts of Nepal have been reached by the program through the active philanthropy of the international solar sisters program volunteers.
2. Radio Program On Renewable Energy (RAPORE)
In order to bring awareness to villagers about all their renewable energy choices and solutions, Adam Friedensohn designed the Radio Program on Renewable Energy which broadcasted regular informative radio shows to far remote regions of Nepal. This program was up ported by UNESCO, the United Nations Science and Cultural Organization.
3. Home Employment & Lighting Package (HELP) Program (1999 - 2003)
The HELP program, combines Rural Electrification and Income Generation, and has been supported in part by United Nations Development Program (Global Environment Facilities/Small Grant Program), the Nepal Government Alternative Energy Promotion Center (AEPC), and initially by Winrock International in its feasibility stage. The first pilot HELP program was implemented in the village of Bongadovan which is in the Baglung district of west Nepal. Currently, several hundred families still produce and sell handicrafts such as hand made Nepali paper, earning income for their families while working in their village homes under clean solar lights.
The objectives of HELP may be summarized as follows:
1. To provide environmentally sound electricity to the rural community via the installation of solar PV systems.
2. Reduces harmful smoke emissions in the home environment which normally resulted from makeshift Kerosene lamp use.
3. Freeing up of villagers small much needed cash income for other more important uses.
4. Promotion of the adoption of renewable energy with combination of skill enhancement and income generation activities.
5. Reduces the drudgery of women and promote women participation and women empowerment in the society by teaching new skills to develop markets and marketable products for cottage industry.
6. Promote Small Scale and Cottage Industries (SSCI) and give Nepali handicrafts a place in the international arena by exporting the products.
4. SPOWTS for Clean water Annapurna Trekking Region
The Original SPOWTS Program, Solar Powered Ozone Water Treatment Systems or SPOWTS® for short, used small solar photovoltaic (solar PV) systems to provide completely pathogen free clean drinking water for tourists and villages especially in the Himalayan trekking regions. By combining the use of Solar PV with the income generating activity of selling clean drinking water to tourists the SPOWTS systems sustainability was assured along with a new (and substantial) cash income for the system owners.
Tourists pay lower prices for water and have extra funds for other items available from the villages themselves. "SPOWTS™" allowed villagers to sell clean water to trekkers at a good profit with no resulting empty bottle pollution. This helps villagers earn cash incomes while preserving the environment and saving tourists money as well.
Objectives of the original SPOWTS™ program:
To provide high opportunities for cash income to local remote communities by selling purified water to tourists.
To contribute to a pollution free environment by decreasing the number of plastic bottles in the environment.
To provide clean drinking water to tourists and inhabitants of the village at reasonable cost.
To provide villages with electricity for lighting.
To demonstrate the technical and sociological feasibility of the combination of ozone water purification technology and renewable energy in the Himalayan region.
To implement a technology that has the potential to be replicated in various other regions in Nepal, in a commercial manner.
5. Thangka Painting School, Kavre ( 2001-3)
A thangka is an intricate and highly detailed Buddhist religious painting depicting deities and the universe. The Buddha Darshan Club began its Thangka Painting School project in May 1998. The project was highly successful and played a large and important role in income generation in Kavre district, west of Kathmandu. Thangka paintings have increasingly become a major source of income from tourist sales. The project provided skills to the uneducated youth of the area, overcoming the high unemployment rate and thus poverty that prevailed in the region. Despite 40% of the people in the district wanting to participate, the Buddha Darshan Club was forced to close its doors due to lack of adequate lighting and lack of funds.
The Virtual Foundation, Japan and The Solar Development Fund (SDF) supported the program for a few years . Forty Seven students regularly attended the classes, 16 of which were young ladies previously unable to join this traditionally male-dominated activity. The beneficiaries were mostly from the Tamang and Brahmin communities.
6. Himalayan Gompa Lighting Project (1998)
In conjunction with the Virtual Foundation, USA, the Himalayan Light Foundation installed solar electric lighting systems in several monasteries in the remote Himalayas in 1998. As well as being spiritual centers, these monasteries are also often the centers of the community, attracting people from the surrounding villages for a wide variety of activities. Traditionally monasteries often provide education for the children of the area and they maintain this role today particularly in areas where access to schools is difficult or expensive.
These communities and their monasteries commonly obtain light from kerosene or wood. Burning these fuels indoors causes numerous health problems including lung and eye diseases, and the dim light they produce leads to sight problems in many older monks. The HLF monastery solar lighting program provided clean, high quality lighting, and helped educate rural communities about uses of solar electricity. The Himalayan Gompa Lighting Project has already provided electricity to 5 Gompas including Pema Choling and Tashi Choling Gompa of Helambu, and Laro Gompa of Solukhumbu district (Sagarmatha zone). Other Gompas that are HLF plans to electrify are the Tatopani Gompa of Helambu District and The Gompa of Tulku Rigtsal also in Helambu. HLF is currently seeking funds from donors to provide lighting to these and other gompas.
7. A Social and Economic Impact Study of Solar Home Systems (1998)
Successful implementation of sustainable renewable energy projects in the Himalayas requires an understanding of a variety of social, political, economic, and physical variables. Socio-economic studies and field tests of various renewable energy technologies, institutional arrangements, and financing mechanisms were assessed for their appropriateness for villages.
Environmental Science MSc. students at the Environmental Change Unit of the University of Oxford, England (1998) undertook a detailed survey. Surveys were carried out in Kavre district and Dhading district in June and July 1998. The reports, which have been submitted, provide information and non-technical suggestions on how to improve customer satisfaction and program implementation. Lotus Energy (Pvt.) Ltd., Nepal, funded this project.
8. The LEVEL-UP (Lotus Energy Village Electrification & Lighting Utility Project) and Renewable Energy System Dissemination Program (RESDP) 1997
HLF coordinated the installation of fifty solar electric lighting systems throughout several districts of Nepal in coordination with Lotus Energy (P) Ltd. with financial assistance from the United States. Applications included lighting in public spaces for schools, literacy programs, health clinics, small remote area telecommunication systems and lighting for community centers as well as for sample home lighting and electrification. These systems were the very first to stimulate and launch the Nepal government’s solar subsidy program which operated through the Nepal government’s agricultural Development Bank , ADBN.
The LEVEL-UP (Lotus Energy Village Electrification & Lighting Utility Project) Seed System Program was also completed as part of this program. In order to raise awareness of solar electricity technologies, 18 “seed” systems were installed in 9 districts including Kalikot, Darchula and Baitadi. The project was funded by the OES (Bureau of Oceans and International, Environmental and Scientific Affairs), U.S. Department of State. (1997-98).
HLF facilitated the establishment of village committees responsible for community system operations and maintenance. This assured that all members of the village were able to participate in and enjoy the benefits of the systems deployed. The program worked with a variety of financing mechanisms including micro-credit initiatives, subsidy programs, and donor-funded projects. This program included educational components to inform remote communities about the potential uses as well as constraints of renewable electricity.