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Solar Energy Enters Tibetan Homes

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 00/06/26; June 26, 2000.]

Source: People's Daily,

People's Daily is an official publication of the Chinese government

Monday, June 26, 2000 Ox dung - it is still the major source of fuel for many Tibetans today. For generations, these people have burned ox dung to warm themselves and cook. Although it doesn't produce much heat, it is cheap and easy to collect and store. But burning ox dung has its own problems. Chief amongst them is the smoke. If it's burnt it also means it cannot be used as fertilizer. This is a problem for farmers. However, moves are now afoot to change this situation.

With ongoing economic development in Tibet, many new types of energy have entered the lives of herdsman and farmers in the region. Solar energy is one of them. And already, the people here are enjoying its benefit.

This is Gong Tang county on the northern plateau. And this is the 'Light Project', which was set up by the local government. They are using solar energy to run a lighting system for the herdsmen. More than 200 families here have already had the system installed, free of charge.

Seventy-year-old Sirab received this solar generator a year ago. Before that, his family only had an oil lamp and candles. But now, with the new solar light, they can work at night, and this is helping increase the family income.

Sirab, herdsman, Gong Tang county of Tibet said: "I had no idea what solar energy was before and I refused to use it. But then I saw other herdsmen using the magic energy. I liked the idea. It's very convenient. "

One of the people responsible for the "Light Project" is Jiang Nan. For the past two years, he and his colleagues have been working to popularize their solar equipment.

Jiang Nan, president of Solar Energy Research Institute said:" Tibet has the blessing of the sun. The average annual sunshine exceeds 3 thousand hours. This makes solar energy the most effective and cheapest way of solving the energy problem in Tibet."

Jiang Nan says the most difficult task is overcoming Tibetans' traditional attitude towards the sun. Many still believe that using solar energy will enrage the sun god and leave no light for future generations. Teaching them that solar energy is safe to use and that there is plenty for everyone is an important task.

Currently, most of the solar equipment in Tibet comes from outside the region. But many Tibetan businesses have begun to invest in developing their own solar generators, lights and heaters. This factory used to be a garage until a year ago. Now it's the largest solar equipment maker in Lhasa.

Lei Tianyu, director of Tibet Solar Equipment Factory said:" Although we haven't turned a profit yet, we intend to expand production. This way we can increase revenue and meet growing market demand."

Now, more and more Tibetans are bidding farewell to ox dung. By learning the secrets of the sun, they're able to tap into its power and makes its energy serve their lives.

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