Energy Issues

Last night there was the worst coal-mining disaster in US history in the past quarter-century, with a known death toll of 25 and 4 still missing.

There are still miners trapped underground from a mining explosion in China a few days ago.

Yesterday was also a tragic oil spill at the Great Barrier Reef, when a Chinese ship illegally left shipping lanes and rammed into Douglas Shoals—a protected area of the world’s largest coral reef. A 2-mile-long oil slick has already leaked from the ship…and that represents only 2 metric tons of the ONE THOUSAND metric tons of oil on board. Specialists say it could take weeks to dislodge the ship.

These three energy emergencies have nothing to do with one another, but it sure does make me think of safe, renewable energy sources and how I wish we weren’t so sluggish in exploring and implementing those–for so many reasons.

There are some fascinating international volunteer vacation opportunities for solar energy programs. Swogun Nepal is a non-government organization, part of a solar energy supplier, that has an international volunteer program. Swogun’s Solar Aid volunteers “install solar home systems in rural communities, public houses, libraries, temples, health posts etc.
After installation, training is provided to ensure that users can take proper advantage of having light after sunset. This includes the teaching of income generating skills; like weaving, carpet making, etc. This helps the villagers to become self-sufficient.”

How do volunteers work with our Solar Aid Program?
On the first few days of your visit, you can explore Kathmandu Valley. You can learn various aspects of Nepalese culture – the people and their way of living.

You then travel to the installation site, which are usually a day bus ride from Kathmandu and a day’s walk from the bus stop. After an intensive one day training in the village, volunteers install the system at the selected venue. Finally, our technician checks each system connection before the final installation.

The Solar Aid program emphasizes cross-cultural exchange. So during the installations, you will stay with families. Accommodation is simple and shared with family members. Nepalese traditional food is taken sitting on the floor with family members. Hands are used to eat food instead of spoons. You will enjoy joining in with typical Nepalese family activity because the system is entirely different from western culture.

What a great way to help rural communities thrive with sustainable and renewable energy. Good for the planet, good for the communities, good for the volunteers, good for all of us.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by dinda elliott on April 6, 2010 at 1:45 PM

    Andrew, What a terrific post. Solar Aid sounds wonderful.
    Could you please email your email contact to me? I wanted to get back in touch but can’t find your email!
    Thanks, Dinda


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