Ladakh region of J&K is cold desert, and dung is the major source of energy in rural houses for cooking, water and space heating. Women toil hard to collect dung from limited grazing land and livestock sheds and store dung cakes for use in winter, when the ambient temperature remains way below freezing point. Burning of dung as source of energy deprives agriculture land of manure resulting in poor productivity, which restrict cultivation of traditional crops of Oat, barley and wheat.
Department of Science and Technology (DST), through its Science for Equity Empowerment and Development (SEED) Division, initiated Technology Intervention for Mountain Ecosystem: Livelihood Enhancement through Action Research & Networking (TIME-LEARN) program to address location-specific needs of mountain community in N-W Himalayas.
A collaborative project of Highland Agricultural Research and Extension Station (HAERS), Padum, Zanskar and Himalayan Research Group (HRG), Shimla, which is a Core Group of DST-SEED, was launched to customize & deliver select technologies, developed and field tested by HRG in Himachal Pradesh (HP). Through consultative process and need assessment exercise, technology package for solar water and space heating was identified for adoption and benefit to the community.
In the remote Zanskar valley of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), most of the population is dependent on traditional and subsistence agriculture/livestock rearing. This project is a novel attempt to provide innovative solutions at the household level to meet domestic energy needs for water and space heating. This region is bestowed with about 300 days of clear sunshine, which can be one of the major sources of energy to meet domestic needs. Solar station have been installed to provide electricity in some villages but only for lighting. Other needs of cooking, space and water heating are met mostly through burning of dung cakes.
Burning of dung cakes produces lot of smoke that affects human life and deprive agriculture fields of organic manure which results in poor productivity. Under a DST-SEED supported initiative, 158 customized solar panels (89 for water heating and 69 for space heating) were fabricated. These were transported from HRG field station at Mandi in HP through eight Passes including Tanglangla, second highest Pass in the world at an altitude of 17582 feet.
A group of trained artisans fabricated of solar water and space heating panels. These were designed to suit specific climate and community conditions in Zanskar Valley of Ladakh region. Panels work on the simple principle of solar energy absorption by the black coated galvanized iron sheet and aluminum alloy pipe coil, through normal window glass to heat water and air. Solar water heating panel provide 100-120 liters of hot water per day on sunny days. Space heating panel heats and blows air at maximum 65-700C and warms the living space which otherwise require heating with dung cake that are burnt in a stove. Solar heated rooms remain warmth even after sunset. These solar panels cost Rs.10,000/- and Rs.5000/- for water and space heating respectively.
The technology package of designing and installation of customized solar panels using local material was found effective and suitable in geographical and economic conditions of Zanskar Valley. Effectiveness of the solar panels in the retrofitted rooms was assessed through sophisticated data logging and interview/feedback of the community. Solar room heating panel was able to increase the room temperature by 12-150C in winter months (October-March) when outside temperature remained in the range of -12 to -300C. Traditionally, people use 50-60 Kg dung cakes/day to keep living space comfortably warm.
In winters, water freezes, and water heating is limited to cooking and drinking. Water at freezing temperature is heated to 60-700C initially for around 45 minutes in the morning sun and successive batches are heated in 30-35 minutes during the day. During visit of HRG and SKUAST-K scientists in July 2017, they observed water heating from 110 C water to maximum 840 C in 35 minutes and panel dispensed 120 liters of piping hot water from 9am to 3pm in 5 batches. Ongoing extensive monitoring of panels with data loggers for their performance is likely to be completed by July 2018.
Community has accepted this technology package of clean energy, which is not only affordable and effective but also helps to save 3-4 hours of women that they spend on dung collection along with 35-40% dung saving in winter months. Such Intervention will contribute immensely in drudgery reduction, availability of dung for manure in agriculture and mitigation of household emission from dung burning as well.
Convergence & Replicability:
Members of Ladakh Development Council (LDC) of District Kargil decides the development works of the valley. During project implementation, members of the LDC were consulted along with local leaders who took keen interest in installation of solar water & space heating panels in 158 households. There was demand from almost every household. Members of community were of great help during installation. (The technology package developed by HRG under DST-SEED Core Support has been adopted in HP by other field-based development agencies and line department.
HRG has installed these systems in 119 households of 5 villages in Kullu and Shimla, under Forest-PLUS project of Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change and USAID during 2014-2016. Its success & acceptability prompted USAID in sponsoring a campaign for popularization in Mandi, Kullu, Lahul & Spiti and Kinnaur to cover 25-30 villages. H.P. State Council for Science Technology and Environment also supported installations in Kinnaur area, with further support under National Mission on Himalayan Studies of MOEF&CC.
Value Addition in building S&T Capacities:
People are quite interested in learning and adopting new technique and skills for clean energy system for space and water heating. During installation of solar panels and demonstration of silage preparation, people observed the techniques/methods seriously and exhibited interest through installation of panels and silage preparation in their respective houses after demonstration. People in the valley have come forward to learn new skills to improve their living conditions and make life comfortable.
During project activities, efforts were made to motivate local youth and artisan to adopt and install space-heating panels in houses, constructed as integrated system in place of retrofit. Six panels were installed in houses under construction to popularize the technology and make it a permanent feature of house construction in the valley. Further, orientation of community as follow up after a year during June-July 2018 will help better community adoption and sustenance.
In case of water heating panel, availability of water heating coil is the main constrain. Therefore, orientation of traders and artisan is being done to source the coil for fabrication locally by project implementing agencies. Further, installation and display of fabricated solar water and space heating system in the premises of HARES, SKUAST at Padum will go a long way in demonstration of this technology and orientation of the visiting community members for adoption not only in this valley but in other areas of J&K as well.