The first stage of a large solar village project at Nochchiya village-cluster situated in the Kurunegala district, Sri Lanka, was established in January 2017, with the installation of two solar power systems, each funded by UK registered charities – The Association of Professional Sri Lankans in the UK (APSL) and Hela Sarana.
The Hela Sarana funded system was dedicated in memory of Mr Raja Meehitiya, the founder President of Hela Sarana who passed away in June 2015. After opening of the first pilot solar village in 2008 at Kaduruwewa in the Kurunegala district, this will be the next large village cluster initiating the replication phase of solar villages in Sri Lanka. Solar village project concept was designed and developed by Professor I M Dharmadasa, in the late 1990s during an HE-Link programme, to empower rural communities using clean energy technologies for sustainable development and poverty reduction. Poverty reduction programmes in any community should have two main features; wealth creation method and follow-up methods for job creation within the community.
The first stage in Nochchiya village will be provided by water pumping in the dry-zone using clean and freely available solar energy. Modifying the project features according to the requirements of the community, this new project at Nochchiya creates much needed revenue to cover water pumping expenses within the village cluster.
Two solar roofs of 3 kW each were installed in the village with the funding provided by the above two charities. Cost of each system was Rs 830,000 (£4.500), and the total cost was Rs 1.66 million (£9,000). The power produced from 6 kW solar roofs will be fed into the national grid, and the income generated will be used to cover the cost of two water pumping stations operated using grid electricity. These funds will be managed in a fully transparent way by the Village Development Committee with the guidance from project initiators. The project team will be monitoring the performance of the two solar roofs as a function of time, in order to publish real data for the benefit of Sri Lankan population.
This project also encourages and enhances the “ONE Million” solar roof programme initiated recently by the present Sri Lankan Government to produce clean energy and reduce burning of imported coal and diesel, to Sri Lanka.
The water pumped and purified is mainly used for drinking purpose by over 1200 people in this village thereby preventing any kidney diseases and other water related diseases within the community. In addition to serving the above village, the purified water is available to seven other surrounding villages, to purchase at a very nominal cost. The project team within the APSL-UK is guiding the community to achieve rapid economic development applying solar village concepts [1-3].
This project also fulfils 13 out of 17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) established by the United Nations, and is also highly relevant to Sri Lanka, supporting the promotion of the recently launched "Soorya Bala Sangramaya" (Battle for Solar Energy) programme, and enabling to provide clean drinking water to the people in the region.
This project can be equally applicable to every other developing country in the sun-belt for sustainable development, providing valuable solutions to avoid the detrimental effects of climate change.
Prepared by: I M Dharmadasa (Past President of APSL-UK and Solar Village Project Leader on behalf of the Project Team)
Leslie Dep (President of APSL-UK, on behalf of APSL-UK) Jayantha Silva (President of Hela Sarana, on behalf of Hela Sarana - UK)