I am a retired psychology professor who taught cross-cultural psychology, and used anthropological methods to design contextually valid school curricula in a number of developing countries. On recreational trips to Uzbekistan and Nepal, my wife and I saw solar-electric systems that your readers might be interested in.
In the Himalayas, most of the tea/guest houses rely greatly on solar power, both for the usual residential requirements and for recharging the computers, tablets, phones, and other devices used by trekkers and climbers. Many visitors bring their own portable solar chargers. In 2011, the world’s highest webcam—solar-powered—started broadcasting images of Everest from the top of an adjacent peak, Kala Patthar (see bit.ly/EverestWebCam). This project was started with Italy’s National Research Council in conjunction with the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology.
Recently, we stayed at a small desert encampment in Uzbekistan. We depended upon solar-electric modules to fulfill most of our electricity needs. We were also impressed with the announcement that Uzbekistan, with its 320 days per year of sunshine, will be the first central Asian country to build one of the world’s largest solar power plants (100 megawatts) with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank. In 2012, Uzbekistan opened an international solar energy research facility in Tashkent, and hopes it will eventually become a solar energy exporter.
I have also observed the use of solar-electric modules for power generation in rural areas of India and parts of Africa. Solar power is also sometimes captured with parabolic mirrors for use in cooking. In addition, energy is occasionally generated from methane derived from human and animal waste. We’ve seen lots of creative and innovative renewable energy options in our travels!
David Baine • Edmonton, Alberta