Solar energy provides lighting and powers radios and TV sets. It empowers the younger generation to become aware, educated citizens.

At the end of the 1980-s, about half of Sri Lanka was not covered by the national electricity grid. The problem was particularly acute in the Uva region in the south east of the country, an area of about 8300 sq kms and home to a little less than a million people. 

A programme of solarisation was undertaken in Pansiyagama village in Kurunegala District. Sunpower, along with BP Solar Pty Ltd of Australia, was awarded the contract in mid 1989 to design, supply and install the domestic photovoltaic systems. These provided electricity for lighting and operating small appliances such as radios and TV sets. 

It was literally a case of bringing a region out of the darkness and into the light. Consider just two benefits. Electrification encouraged primary education in an area where the literacy rate was significantly lower than the national average of more than 90%. It also encouraged teachers and health personnel to live and work in the area.

Water Supply

At the ancient monastery at Nagadeepa, a solar power system, designed, installed and maintained by Sunpower, brings piped water. Water from the monastery's overhead tower flows to the village school.

The Uva Region Photovoltaic Power Rural Infrastructure Development Project, launched in 1991 by the Ministry of Housing & Construction, Government of Sri Lanka, was, at that time, the largest solar infrastructure project of its kind in the world.

Sunpower, together with BP Solar, was commissioned to install more than 100 systems for various uses. Water delivery, lighting and maternity & public health were 3 important focus areas. Solar powered pumps were used to store water in overhead tanks and deliver it to public taps. Not only did this make day-to-day life easier, it also encouraged cleanliness and personal hygiene, which had a direct bearing on the health of the population.

Public Health

Electricity from solar power is ensuring a better, healthier life for young and old alike by providing essential facilities at maternity clinics, hospitals, community centres and vocational training centres.

Despite a well laid out network of maternity clinics, dispensaries and hospitals, Sri Lanka's rural public health system used to suffer, in some areas, from the lack of electricity.

Emergency deliveries had to be done by candlelight. Post natal vaccines for infants and snake bite venom had to be fetched from long distances. Basic facilities such as lighting, water heating and refrigeration were not available.

Equally, because of the primitive living conditions, it was difficult to attract competent and dedicated staff to rural hospitals.

Solar power installations helped to remove these drawbacks and make the rural health system far more effective. Vaccines needed for immunisation programmes and anti-venom for snakebites can now be refrigerated. Childbirths are easier. Night lighting has made the hospitals safer. Midwives, equipped with solar lanterns, can make house calls.

At the turn-of-the-century Rozella Railway Station in Nuwara Eliya District, the telephone no longer has to be hand-cranked, thanks to solar power.

The Railways may no longer be the transportation backbone of the country, but they certainly are the lifeline of the hill country - for its people as well as its produce. To keep the trains running safely and on time, repeater stations, signalling and semaphoring equipment, the telegraph and telephones have to work reliably around the clock. But a number of stations as well as large lengths of track are still outside the national electricity grid.

Commissioned by Sri Lanka Railways, Sunpower along with NAPS of Finland devised the technology to solarise these applications. We generate more than 30 KW of electricity at their repeater stations. 

Railway track signal equipment can now be powered by inexpensive, maintenance-free solar power systems installed by Sunpower. These are replacing expensive storage batteries, which have to be replaced regularly and sometimes simply vanish through human intervention!

The Sri Lanka Army too uses our solar panels to power their communication stations. The list of applications that we have designed is extensive and we are always on the lookout for new challenges.

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