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Solar project in Matepani, Pokhara

Updates

Updates on our projects and work in Nepal

Solar project in Matepani, Pokhara

Michelle Welsch

Nepal is 10:45 hours ahead of New York. While Manhattanites are dancing in brightly lit clubs, Nepalis are consulting the latest load-shedding schedule and anticipating power shortages for up to 12 hours each day. I’m reminded how frequently I take for granted the ease in which I charge my cell, turn on a switch to cook, read a book by bedside light.

Knowing very little about energy systems, I originally suggested we find a generator to provide electricity for kitchen lights, dorm hallways, common areas and classrooms. Turns out generators are loud and run on costly diesel. It didn't take me long to realize I had a lot to learn about power and energy.

I set out to find solar experts in Nepal and spoke with several American energy enthusiasts. As I heard stories of solar systems in third world countries, I've learned more about batteries and inverters than I care to admit. A lot of effort has been channeled into finding a local company with demonstrated success, clear expertise, and a track record of long-lasting projects. Having identified the most necessary items to power, they've designed an effective hybrid model to make use of the existing grid and supplement power with solar. The team has offered two proposals, a “cost effective” model (around $4k) and a slightly more expensive option with better quality components, a energy management unit that monitors and records data, and a function that allows for solar energy use during load shedding hours ($7k). 

I’m thrilled to support a local business and work with engineers who are leading the renewable energy charge within Nepal. The company has been great --- experts who have visited the monastery and taken time to answer questions and address all presented concerns (our email chain continues to grow, over 30 emails in total). Now it’s a matter of funding. 

I’ve promised these guys that I’ll do it, so I know that somehow I will. I’ve fundraised in the past; it was no walk in the park. I have moments where thoughts of raising $7k absolutely petrifies me and a part of me wants to choose the "cheap option." But I'm not convinced we have to make sacrifices just yet.

I imagine the students and the young men growing up in this environment. I think of our Project Lead, Sangpo, and the responsibility I’ve bestowed upon him with this effort, an opportunity to use his remarkable intelligence, build leadership skills, and invest in the place he was brought as a young boy over fifteen years ago.

I’ve sent out a few applications for $1,000 grants and realize I’m going to have to solicit donations for this effort. We’re still finalizing numbers, and I’ll start a crowdfunding campaign with the finalized dollar amount before I head back to Nepal to get things started. My dream is to bring the funding with me for Sangpo’s birthday in May. What a gift that would be.

Keep your eyes open for updates and please send me a note if you'd like to help. Your support is appreciated, whether monetary or otherwise. It's all good energy.