Monthly Archives: January 2016

IEEE Smart Village Expands Partnership with Global Himalayan Expedition to Further Support Delivery of Electricity to Remote, High-Altitude Himalayan Villages

IEEE Foundation Signature Program empowers off-grid communities through education and the creation of sustainable, affordable, locally owned entrepreneurial energy businesses

IEEE Smart Village, a global humanitarian program helping remote, energy-deprived communities build toward sustainability with renewable energy and technology, announced today the expansion of their partnership with Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE). With this expansion, IEEE Smart Village is supporting GHE in providing clean energy access through solar power to improve the living standards of rural villages in the remote Himalayan frontiers of India.

IEEE Smart Village’s investment in GHE will specifically go toward funding access to basic electricity, through installation of energy efficient high lumen LED lights for residential lighting, solar LED street lighting for the outdoor community space, mobile charging points and customized DC HD LED TV for these villages which are typically located above 13000 ft. in the Indian Himalayas bordering countries such as Pakistan and China.

In partnership with IEEE Smart Village, GHE’s objective is to implement the renewable energy and technology solutions in a sustainable, scalable and environmentally beneficial way—leading to an overall development of the remote villages in the Ladakh and Zanskar regions of India. In August 2015, an international cast of volunteers, including IEEE members, helped set-up DC Solar microgrids, ranging in capacity from 100 watts (W) to 300 watts (W), to the remote ancient village of Shingo, nestled in Hemis National Park, in the Rumbak Valley of Ladakh, under the banner of GHE.

To date, GHE has electrified eight Himalayan villages and has impacted over 1800 lives directly. GHE has been instrumental in promoting these electrified villages in the form of Home-Stays (Hostels) for trekkers, who usually are seeking food and shelter while hiking through these remote Himalayan valleys. This has helped increase the income generation of these remote communities and has provided them with a livelihood opportunity towards a better future.

“It is our privilege to come alongside Paras Loomba, Founder of GHE, and his team to advance our mutual goal of bringing light to those who are living without access to electricity,” said Ray Larsen, co-founder of IEEE Smart Village. “The expansion of our program with GHE will build upon our success of delivering reliable electricity as a keystone to overcoming poverty, dramatically enhancing quality of life and encouraging sustainable community prosperity in the world’s off-grid regions.”

GHE plans to electrify 30 remote off-grid Himalayan villages in 2016, advancing the creation of a sustainable rural development for these mountainous communities.

IEEE Smart Village is a donor supported signature program of the IEEE Foundation with a vision to bring basic electrical and educational services to more than 50 million people by 2025. The program is currently serving more than 50,000 people through local partners in Haiti, Cameroon, Nigeria, South Sudan, Kenya, Namibia, Zambia and India.

For more information on IEEE Smart Village, including how to get involved and how to donate, please visit the website:

About IEEE

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As the philanthropic arm of IEEE, the IEEE Foundation inspires the generosity of donors so it may enable IEEE programs that enhance technology access, literacy and education, as well as support the IEEE professional community.

The IEEE Foundation, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization in the United States, fulfills its purpose by soliciting and managing donations, recognizing the generosity of our donors, awarding grants to IEEE grassroots projects of strategic importance, supporting high impact Signature Programs, serving as a steward of donations that empower bright minds, recognize innovation and preserve the history of technology. With donor support, the IEEE Foundation strives to be a leader in transforming lives through the power of technology and education.


For IEEE Smart Village (and for photo requests)
Carrie Owens, +1 931-456-0962
IEEE Foundation
Karen Kaufman, +1 732-981-3436

Testimonial from Paras Loomba in India

Paras Loomba, Founder, Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE)

A Recap and Update as of February 2016:

Late last year GHE received seed-funding for the installation of 150 watt and 250 watt based DC solar microgrid systems in five extremely remote off-grid villages of northern India, located in the high altitude Himalayan region of Ladakh. Prior to the winter season of 2015, the team electrified three villages with 1.5 KW of capacity serving 670 villagers. This spring, the final two communities will be provisioned with hardware serving an additional 850 himalayan lives.

When complete this project will not only provide light and modest power for the community, but is also part of an overall plan of social enterprise via revenue-generating tourist-trekker “home stay” lodging. For 2016, GHE plans to install micro-utility services in an additional 40 mountain villages and will approach IEEE Smart Village for program expansion to support another 7 villages, including the first IEEE Smart Village Education Centre at Zanskar and the creation of a microgrid servicing workshop in support of the local entrepreneurs.

Below is a personal account from Paras on his work in India.

Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE) is a social enterprise that was setup in 2013 and conducts annual expeditions in the Himalayas. GHE’s vision is to provide education and clean energy access to remote Himalayan communities. In 2014, IEEE Smart Village Ambassador Pranav Mehrotra who was part of our 2014 expedition, and was instrumental in setting up the IEEE Smart Village Knowledge Centre at GHE’s Third Pole Education Base in Leh, India. The setup of the IEEE Smart Village Knowledge Centre has had a profound impact on the students of Third Pole Education Base. The students through the Centre are now directly engaging with a world they previously could not touch, they now believe that with knowledge obtained, they can bring renewable energy solutions back to their home villages and participate in improving the lives of their families and friends. The IEEE Smart Village Knowledge Centre at the Third Pole Education Base has acted as a window to the world for children these remote areas.

This year in August as part of our GHE 2015 expedition, an international cast of volunteers, including IEEE member Arnold Sullivan, helped bring light for the first time to an ancient Himalayan village called Shingo, that is nestled in Hemis National Park in the high-elevation Rumbak Valley of Ladakh, This locale is in farthest northern India, where the Kuen Lun Mountains meet the Himalayas.

During GHE 2015, the picogrid material including batteries and Solar panels was transported on Horse back to the remote village of Shingo. Getting the equipment there required a score of volunteers from Denmark, Peru, Oman, Singapore, India, Germany, Kenya and the United States to trek for three days from the nearest motorable road, crossing 16,500-foot Gandala Pass en route. Our team spent the first night in the village Shingo in total darkness. The second day was spent by the team of volunteers surveying the village and setting up the three solar picogrids. It took the team just 7 hours to complete installation of LED lights in each and every room of each and every home of the village including setting up of LED street lights to grace this beautiful valley, where snow leopards still roam. Darkness gave way to shimmering light when the grids were switched on, bringing a fresh ray of hope in the lives of the villagers.

Rural, DC-powered picogrids provide an excellent, environmentally friendly alternative for off-grid communities with low capital investment and ease-of-setup. These systems can range from 100 watts (W) to 500 W in capacity and provide not only basic, LED-based lighting for rooms but also help light up the streets of the village through DC LED Solar street lights in addition to providing an entertainment/ community recreation source through a 21” DC LED HD TV.

The business model is equally flexible. These picogrids are community owned. Two people from the village are selected to not only maintain the grid but are also responsible for Home-Stays and their upkeep when trekkers visit the village. Both of these villagers are trained on grid maintenance and also keep an account of the monthly rental by the villagers towards grid maintenance and commission earned by the villager through Home-stay promoted through GHE’s Green Himalayan village booking portal.

The villagers use electricity not only for basic activities such as cooking, but the light provided to the villagers also helps the artisans of the village to engage in their handicraft activities due to extension of their working hours. The village Shingo is known for the Sheep wool based handicrafts.

The lights and amenities powered by the picogrid enable villagers to host foreign trekkers passing through Shingo, a vital rest stop for those headed up west towards Zanskar or north towards Markha Valley. Trekkers will be willing to pay extra to stay in these village homestays because of the value added facilities being provided. We estimate this will increase income to at least 20,000 rupees (about $306 USD) per family each tourist season from now onwards.

It may be difficult for outsiders to appreciate the potential revolution such systems could provide. India has the world’s second-largest population but 70 percent live in rural areas, most without any access to the country’s electric grid. Extending the grid to regions with low population and potentially low electric loads is capital intensive, time-consuming and, ultimately, may not make sense in terms of investment priorities. The falling cost of solar panels, the efficacy of a small, DC-based picogrid and ease-of-setup and use make our solution both “do-able” and increasingly popular.

In terms of design, these picogrids have a centralized storage and power generation capability. GHE has hosted training workshops for the villagers to help them understand the intricacies of the picogrid. The IEEE Smart Village Initiative has supported our mission in the Himalayas to provide remote off grid communities with opportunities that they previously had no access to.