Interview with Jason Gray of Sunfarmer, Part II


ELSE caught up with Jason Gray, co-founder of SunFarmer, for a quick question and answer session about the Siddheswor PV project, the founding of their non-profit, and daily life in this remote Nepali village. Part 2 of 2.

ELSE: Why is the Nepali government supporting some of these PV projects?

Jason: We are serving areas where there is no access or very limited access to reliable energy.  The Nepali government recognizes that solar is a viable and cost effective option, and wants to encourage its adoption in rural areas where grid infrastructure doesn’t exist or isn’t coming. The government presently subsidises diesel and is trying to reduce this. Kathmandu has some of the poorest air quality in the world, which is attributed to the high use of diesel generators and burning of wood for cooking.

ELSE: How do the communities feel about these PV systems being installed?

Jason: SunFarmer and Possible (the health clinic operator) have held several community meetings to discuss the projects and what it means. The communities are very supportive and one of the requirements of receiving Nepali government financial support was a letter of support from community leadership. Local midwives are also very excited about the impact lighting will have with nighttime deliveries and improving quality of service for patients.

ELSE: Why is solar PV the best option?

Jason: In these areas, the local grid connection is very poor and there are no plans for upgrades or improvements. Blackouts can last up to 20 hours a day, so people don’t know when electricity will be available. Even when it is available, electricity is of such low quality that it can’t even charge batteries. Diesel is sporadically available in the area, but it’s very expensive and results in a very high price per kWh for very unreliable electricity. PV will improve reliability and because of our financing, the energy will be cheaper than diesel-generated power.