Talon News - Good Local News

By Carl Bickford
Special to TALON 



August 10, 2018

Carl and Christie Bickford pose with the students of Ladakhi school in Ladakhi, India.

by Carl Bickford, Special to TALON

The PV (solar electric) installation went as well as any developing world project can go. Materials and equipment were there when we needed them, and everything interfaced correctly. As a reminder, we were at a remote school for Ladakhi (culturally Tibetan) kids that failed their grade 10 exam administered to all Indian students. The school is off-grid, and promotes total sustainability including food and human waste. We worked closely with some of the kids responsible for managing the PV system, and ate all our meals with the whole school. It was a life-changing experience. Both Christie and I would go back to the region for more service work and travel. The lowest elevation we saw (the school) was 11,500 ft. During travel to a northern valley we drove over an 18,000 ft pass that is kept open all winter for military transport. Beyond that pass we were very close to both Pakistan and Tibetan China.

The install project involved laying 200 meters of new armored cable underground to supply the school from the inverter. The cable alone was about 1/8 the total budget. The existing PV arrays were serviceable, but we rewired them for a higher voltage and buried all the runs in conduit with properly sized conductors. A new inverter panel (1/2 the budget) was installed and wired in the existing battery building. New batteries were installed in a new enclosure. An existing generator was moved to the battery building and cabling installed so it could both run the school and charge the batteries when solar alone isn't enough to cover the loads.

Thanks to corporate equipment donations we had enough money left over to purchase all new PV panels for the school's water well pumping system. This was desperately needed, and the panels will be installed by students and the facilities manager, hopefully before winter.


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