Solar Powered PCs To Revolutionize Rural Sector

by Amit Tripathi    Aug 24, 2004

How do you bring computerization to the rural sector when most of these remote areas do not even have access to basic clean 24×7 power? Instead of knocking on the government’s door with lengthy proposals to build power grids, technology has provided an easy way out.

Researchers in India have come up with an exciting solution, which will make rural computing simply a walk in the park, or rather a walk in the Â’sun’.

Non-Conventional Energy Development Agency (NEDA), U.P, setup in the year 1983 as a nodal agency for promotion and development of non-conventional energy sources in Uttar Pradesh, has come up with an innovative idea to power computers using the omnipresent solar energy.

Speaking to CXOtoday, G. Patnaik, director, NEDA, & principal secretary, non-conventional energy source department, UP, said, “We have developed the idea of solar powered PCs primarily targeting rural academia where power shortage and power cuts are rampant. The solar powered panel would provide four hours of non-stop power supply in a day.”

As power shortage is no longer a bugbear confined just to the rural areas, the idea of solar power for PCs is a harbinger of hope for all PC users, including both corporate as well as private. Says Patnaik, “NEDA installs the whole system for rural schools in UP where this project has been started as a pilot. This is equally useful for commercial use by corporates as well as home PC users. Thus more and more commercial organizations need to come forward to give the much needed fillip to this idea.”

Patnaik informed that at the moment one solar panel costs between Rs. 40,000 to 50,000. Two state government departments have entered into a joint venture to run computers on solar energy with an aim to empower the rural students in computer education and extend the e-facility even to remote areas, yet to be electrified by the UPPCL.

On the power support provided by a UPS, Patnaik said, “Although we depend heavily on UPS but in real terms it does provide us with continuous PC usage in case of power shortage. It is in this sense solar powered PCs can bring in real uninterruptible energyat work.”

What is really ironical is the fact that the Uttar Pradesh primary education department has already sanctioned 15 computers for each district last year, under a fund grant of Rs 10.5 crore, to bring UPS backed up machines to the state. The program was called Education For All (EFA), but didn’t quite take off because of the erratic power supply — a nagging problem that has so far prevented the mouse to click in interior areas of the country.

As NEDA goes forward to help out rural students it is high time that industry should take up the cause vigorously to make rural IT and remote e-governance a success.

Tags: Solar