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.
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.
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
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
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
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.