“Lighting up a Tribal Hamlet through Solar DC Power”
Jan 13, 2015
About the hamlet:
Cygni Energy has executed a Solar PV based Off Grid Home (OGH) project in a remote tribal hamlet called “Kundithal”, located in The Nilgiris district of Tamilnadu. This hamlet is situated inside the dense Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, where life after sunset is really back to Stone Age. This hamlet is the home for more than 20 families who earn their livelihood by working at the nearby coffee and tea plantations. There are kids in this hamlet doing schooling in Sreemadurai Panchayat School.
We had to travel about 850 km by road toreach Gudalur and then take a 10 km jeep ride to reach the nearest bus stop to the hamlet. Then we had to measure 2 km by foot through the forest to reach out to the people. It was really tiresome for us for the first time, later it became our daily activity for the next few days.
There was absolutely nothing I could see but tall trees everywhere. The people don’t even have proper drinking water and sanitation facilities.The only reliefto them was a Primary Health Centre located at about 1 km from the hamlet. The mobile phone has however managed to reach this place and some people own them. But to charge the phones, they had to go to the nearest bus stop, where there are some shops.
I wonder how they survive without the basic human needs (so moving) and I am sure, we, urban dwellers,would never dare to stay there even for a single day. The school is situated about 5 kms from the hamlet and the kids walk through the forest to reach the nearest bus stop to take a bus to the school. We surely have to appreciate them for their enthusiasm.
The people never come out of their house after sunset since there is no source of light and also the place is known for the movement of wild elephants and leopards during nights. Now they are able to access inside and outside their home easily with our system doing the lighting up task.
On setting up this project, our hearts were filled with extreme joy and we felt proud that we had done something really useful to the common man.
About the OGH system:
Every home is powered with 1 No of LED DC4-feet Tube light, 2 Nos of LED DC Bulb and 1 No of DC Mobile phone charger. The heart of this project is the “OGH unit”, a product developed in collaborationwith IIT-Madras, capable of feeding 500W of DC loads. It draws power from the Solar PV module and feeds the loads. After sunset, battery bank drives the loads. Every OGH unit serves to 2-3 homes forming a Cluster. There are totally 8 Clusters. Every Cluster is provided with sufficient Solar PV modules based on the Cluster size. The Tube light can be controlled by a remote.
Here are the pictures of the tube light and bulb installed in a house.
Mobile phone charger (picture above) and Battery bank and Solar PV module (picture below) can be seen in the pictures.
To be frank, this man has never seen in his life, a light inside his house other than the dim sunlight.
In the above picture, site electrician climbing onto the rooftop using a new kind of ladder.
What we got from this project:
We have earned a lot from this project, not money, but the love of the people. Tasty and authentic tribal style country chicken food was served to us by the people twice during the execution of the project and that taste is still in our taste buds. We even craved for that taste after leaving the place. 3 months have passed on and still we are receiving a warmth response from the people whenever we contact them over phone.
This project was not just a business visit for us but a means to learn human values.
The writer, P Shree Ram, is adesign and project engineer at Cygni Energy, Hyderabad, India. CYGNI is on a mission to “Powering a Billion Dreams” with solar solutions based on Technology and Innovation. CYGNI is an incubatee of prestigious IIT Madras Incubation Cell and with Rural Technology Business Incubator (RTBI) of IIT Madras. CYGNI brings extensive field experiences in designing, procuring and installing solar plants to its client’s projects. Our past system integration projects include grid-connected plants, rooftop systems and decentralized applications. Additionally, our proven management experience ensures efficient and timely completion of your projects.