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Nepal — Energy for Education Project

Technology:
Solar power
Key Objectives:
  • To demonstrate the potential of solar energy as a viable power source for improving education in the region.
  • To use the energy from photovoltaic systems for lighting and to launch a computer program in two rural schools.
  • To provide clean portable small solar home systems for students and residents of rural Matela, significantly reducing the emission of toxic gases from the current use of kerosene lamps.
Location:
Surkhet District, Nepal
Status:
Completed 2013

The proposal for the Nepal Energy for Education Project came from one of our former Education for Sustainable Energy Development (ESED) scholars, Mr. Niraj Subedi. Mr. Subedi pursued his master’s studies in Environmental and Energy Management at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. His master’s study thesis was based on the Nepalese Energy Policy and his project proposal reflected the work done during the preparation of his thesis. Mr. Subedi, in collaboration with the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership, developed the feasibility study of the project. 

Led by Duke Energy (USA) for GSEP, the project featured the installation of a PV system at the two local schools in the Matela Village Development Committee (VDC) of Surkhet District in western Nepal. The PV systems will provide the Malika U Ma Vi and Rastriya Ma Vi Schools with much-needed lighting, substantially improving the quality of education provided. At the Malika U Ma Vi School, the PV system will also provide sufficient energy to operate a new computer room that will allow students in their last year of studies to have access to modern education services. At the Rastriya Ma Vi School, two computers were also connected for their computer lab. With the PV systems, both schools plan to offer adult residents reading and writing classes during the evening, extending the project’s positive impact beyond the students enrolled in the schools. 

The Malika U Ma Vi School Students that will benefit from the project

The project also features the distribution of small solar home systems (SSHS) to students and residents of Matela. Participants in the program received their SSHS the day of the inauguration. The provision of clean, portable lamps will allow students to do their homework after dusk, while providing residents with a cleaner source of lighting for their homes. This will displace the use of kerosene lamps, significantly reducing health hazards such as burns and the inhalation of toxic fumes.

The initial investment from the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership was used for the purchase of the SSHS and turn-key PV systems, construction of the computer room at the Malika U Ma Vi School, purchase of computers, as well as for all installation and transportation costs. 

Under a memorandum of understanding, the Beautiful Nepal Association (BNA), a local NGO, and the Malika U Ma Vi School’s Management Committee will set up an Operational Committee that will be responsible for the operation and management of their computer PV system and of the overall SSHS program. The Rastriya Ma Vi school will also set up its own Operation Committee. The BNA will offer support to the two schools, both administrative and technical, and will supervise their work to ensure its quality and sustainability.

The SSHS program will use the Malika U Ma Vi School as its main distribution and maintenance center.

The groundbreaking ceremony took place at the Malika U Ma Vi School on December 16, 2012. Construction of the building that will house the computers began in late December. Construction was completed approximately three months later. Success of the project was ensured by working closely together with the BNA, the Management Committees of both schools, and the Alternative Energy Promotion Center (AEPC) from the Nepalese government.

With the support of its members Duke Energy and Kansai Electric Power Company, GSEP led a technical training workshop on stand-alone photovoltaic (PV) systems from December 10-14, 2012 in Kathmandu, Nepal. This workshop provided technical training for the future operation and maintenance (O&M) crew of the PV systems, and to current and future implementers of solar PV technology in Nepal. A total of 29 participants attended the workshop, including staff from BNA, energy and environment officers from 15 different districts in Nepal (in addition to the Surkhet district where the project was implemented), representatives from the beneficiary schools, from Kathmandu University, and from the AEPC.

The project intends to be financially sustainable by charging a small fee for the use of the SSHS –comparable to that already paid by residents for kerosene lamps– and for participation in the computer program that will ensure the operation and general maintenance of the project. The calculation of the fees takes into account the participant students’ and residents’ ability to pay. They were determined jointly with the local partners after a survey of all residents in the Matela VDC. 

This project will serve as a pilot for the Nepalese education system, demonstrating that solar energy can be used to provide electricity to improve education services given in rural regions. The Nepalese government’s AEPC has indicated that it would like to see the concept of this project replicated in other regions in the country. The fact that the technical workshop on PV systems reached beyond the beneficiaries of the project will generate the local capacity to do so. Lessons learned from the project will be shared with all stakeholders, including the Nepalese government.

Distribution of the SSHS at the Malika U Ma Vi School during the inauguration Distribution of the SSHS at the Rastriya Ma Vi School during the inauguration

The project was inaugurated on April 16, 2013. The ceremony was attended by close to 800 residents from the Matela VDC. The headmasters of the two beneficiary schools presided over the ceremony. Representatives of GSEP and BNA took the stage to present the project to the schools. They were accompanied by Mr. Niraj Subedi and Mr. Suman Basnet, the project’s senior PV advisor. Mr. Premraj Pokhrel, representative of the Surkhet Development District Committee and the Government of Nepal’s Alternative Energy Promotion Center (AEPC) was also present. The partnership with BNA and the support from AEPC were invaluable in the development of this project.

To underscore their excitement of the project’s completion, a group of students from the Malika U Ma Vi School composed a song for the occasion that was presented at the inauguration ceremony. In their lyrics, the students thanked GSEP and its partners for the project and sang that now that “solar energy has come to our place we can go and learn how to use computers and achieve great things”. A touching moment for all those present, the students’ excitement mirrored that of teachers and the village residents.

Photo gallery of the Nepal Energy for Education Project

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