Sustainable micro grid brings hope in the Himalayas

Sustainable micro grid

The bright light of hope has been kindled in Chetang – a remote community of subsistence farmers in the Himalayas, 50km from Kathmandu. Surrounded by the breathtaking mountains and precipitous valley floors – which tourists travel thousands of miles to explore – residents look forward to the prosperity that a solar-powered electricity micro-grid will bring. Installing it can be dangerous work, however, as engineers from Gham Power found out:

Nepal is a beautiful country, but for many life is not easy. 7 million of Nepal’s 30 million inhabitants have no access to electricity; and almost three million are either small-holders, or subsistence farmers – contending with drought, forest fires, landslips and flooding – which frequently wipes out the crops they depend on.

Tourists pass-by but as a rule do not stay in Chetang because of the lack of infrastructure and accommodation. All that is about to change. Once reliable electricity is available, hotels become established, and tourism follows …leading to hospitality employment, and income for farmers who have an outlet for their produce. Electricity leads to more successful harvests, too, thanks to pumped irrigation.

A poor community like Chetang would be unable to fund the initial investment required for an off-grid solar micro grid, but local solar energy installer Gham Power, working in collaboration with the not-for-profit organization, Grid Alternative, based in California, USA, obtained the necessary funding to provide a 15kW micro-grid consisting of 2 Victron Quattro 10kVA inverter chargers; 4 BlueSolar MPPT 150/85 solar charge-controllers which maximise the solar power harvest; a Color Control GX from which to control and monitor the installation; and a battery monitor – the BMV-700.

Gham Power

Transporting this equipment to such a remote location meant it had to be hand-carried for the last 15 km with the help of villagers. Installing it presented members of the Gham Power team with dangers they hadn’t expected:

transmission lines around Chetang

Whilst working on one of the transmission lines, a landslip swept by two of the engineers, cutting them off from the rest of the group. The ground was so dangerous that eventually they had to be rescued by helicopter.

Around Chetang

After that event it was decided to suspend installation for a period of two months …and when the team returned they saw the wisdom of their decision – as further landslips had occurred:

solar energy around Chetang

Life in the hills around Chetang is precarious, but with the installation of their new micro-grid, and the prosperity it will bring, the future looks more promising. Gham Power are proud to have Victron Energy as their partners …and we at Victron Energy applaud the energetic work Gham Power are doing.