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A transition to solar in Nepal - lessons and achievements

The emergence of solar energy in developing countries is not an entirely new idea, but many projects fail in making their efforts sustainable. The same may be argued for applying new energy sources in developed nations. Making change “stick” as people learn, purchase, and live with new sources of energy is a shared challenge by every community.

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Achievements and lessons we’ve learned that may be useful for all communities in leading a rapid transition to renewable energy include:
  • Re-investing money saved by avoiding large-scale models, to be injected back into local economies to provide more solar products, innovation, and loans.
  • Providing a holistic approach to the transition, e.g. including education programs so customers and communities can learn about the benefits of solar, from financial, health, social, and environmental perspectives.
  • Recognizing when large power plants and transmission lines are less effective, and more costly, than going directly to communities in need with a distributed power arrangement.
  • Keeping technology and issue resolution simple where possible - offering repair services and warranties by locals, in local communities.
  • Translating what solar use means economically for a community (also larger districts and the country overall). For instance we showcase this as online data (our impact) to show uptake and benefits.
  • Always encouraging a break away from traditional roles for genders and backgrounds; using a ground-up approach involving everyone and creating opportunities and resources for anyone with the passion to lead change.
  • Measuring the success of transition to solar by more than quantitative techniques – using stories and qualitative information around changes experienced for the better. 

Since our pilot project first launched in 2012 we've:
  • Helped create 18,628,505 productive study and work hours.
  • Displaced 1,167 tons of CO2.
  • Saved $112,367 USD on household energy costs.
  • Provided 35,725 people with cleaner, safer homes. 

We believe taking a lean start-up model and ‘fail fast, fail cheap’ philosophy, using feedback from the entire system (customers, entrepreneurs, industry, influences, stakeholders), with a phased approach that allows projects and people to adapt and change with the system, is one way to lead a rapid yet holistic transition to solar.

Please indicate which type of energy is most relevant to this post

  • Solar
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Attachments (2)


An example of our Clean Energy Awareness Program objectives for addressing clean energy in a cross cultural setting.


US Department of Energy coloring book, one communication tool we use to teach children in Nepal about clean energy.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Shuting Zeng

This is an awesome project: it is so down to earth by recognizing what Nepal needs first. Improvement of lighting means so much for Nepal. I volunteered in a small orphanage there, and our light went out by 6 or 7. Kids would have to read in dark light : 5 or 6 surrounding a lamp working poorly.

Do you have other solar products in mind to promote in Nepal besides solar light bulb?

How did you overcome the most difficult issue with localization or connecting with the local communities?

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