Hi, guys. I'm interested in a solarenergy configuration that I can install as inexpensively as possible in rural homes or village locations in a developing country. Those of you familiar with the Barefoot College know that this institution recruits and trains grandmothers from developing countries for 6 months of training as solar engineers. I'd like to promote a similar venture. Any ideas and interest in this type of project would be appreciated.
It all depends on how much energy you need. Are we just charging cell phones (and are they smartphones or "dumb" phones becasue those have very different energy requirements), charging laptops or tables for a school, or are we trying to provide power for an entire house? How many Watt-Hours do we need?
All of the above systems would essentially come down to the solar panesl, a charge controler, a battery bank, and a inverter if AC power is needed rather than just 12v DC. Solar panels are around $0.60-$1.00 per watt depending on the size of panel you buy and in what quantity. Here are some good links for that.
I've worked with a LOT of doctors and other people who go to the crap holes of this world trying to help others. Face it, these places are glamorized as the '3rd world' but they're crap holes, they are worse than Detroit. These people face death and disease on a daily basis, let alone hardly no rule of law, women are treated worse than dogs etc...
Solar panels are brought in by 'do gooders' thinking that electricity will raise these people out of the crap hole they are in and give them a life like they are in the USA, and that is just not true. As soon as the 'Americans Leave' the batteries are soon dead because they take them to 100% depth of discharge many times and just kill the hell out of the batteries and sooner (more sooner) than later the solar panels are stolen and everything you did is just gone.
Do you really want to help people in these crap holes... this is what I learned from the many doctors who have traveled the world. Take ALL of that damn money you'd of spent worthless on worthless solar crap for the people in the crap hole and buy antibiotics and WORMING PILLS and send them with a doctor to your favorite crap hole that you want to help out. These people drink contaminated water on a daily basis so they are racked with intestinal parasites and worms and other creatures living in their body. A worming pill can significantly raise the quality of life for any child or adult. How'd you like having bugs living inside of you These people do not have hygiene or modern medicine, or any medicine, so the smallest cuts can become infected and a short course of an antibiotic costing pennies per pill can save a persons life.
So think good and hard about IF you REALLY want to help people and what will really help them the best.
p.s. I'm probably the ONLY person on an "alternative energy" forum that would give you this advice. Before these people need 'solar electricity' they need roads, fresh water wells (hand pumped), access to medical care, rule of law etc... Its a long philosophical story, but nothing will improve the quality of life for a village faster than a good road to it. I'll let you think about why.
Get all of my Free Energy Classes at
Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
Melvin Hendrix : Steven H. is right, it can Literally be impossible to do the right thing !
As an example, in the 60s and 70s Unesco drilled thousands of wells in India and Bangladesh ! Right down into a very, very, expansive Aquifer laser with Arsenic,
Many people remember the large chemical spill a Bopal India killing 3,800 and blinding many more. the death toll from these Arsenic wells is many times higher !
It is the living in another mans shoes thing if you arnt living there you cant understand how to help !
More information projectwellusa.org/arsenic.php Big AL
Success has a Thousand Fathers , Failure is an Orphan
Cinantro is easy to grow and could have been used to extract a fair amount of the Arsenic from the drinking water.
If the water from the wells had been tested. If the people had been aware of cilantro to filter Arsenic. IF ...
It is true, if they are destabilized, it wont help to have electricity, it wont stick. Even then, much more than communications or internet, lights and water, possibly medical refrigeration on a small scale has proven to go a long way.
There is a facet, i cant remember a term for it. It involves deploying appropriate technology early in development of just these types of societies so that reliance on and familliarity with renewables will be the technological road people are on from basic services of personal lights on up to village power.
No matter how many women are assigned to the project, a pregnancy takes nine months. Much longer than this tiny ad:
100th Issue of Permaculture Magazine - now FREE for a while