June 16, 2023
All energy is solar. Apart from nuclear energy, which also depends on the sun indirectly, all the other forms of energy on Earth are derived directly or indirectly from the sun. Fossil fuels, for example, are the sun’s energy converted into biological material and then concentrated over time. Wind and hydroelectric movements are also caused by the sun’s rays and then simply converted into electricity using various technologies.
Instead of these circuitous, expensive, messy ways, why not directly harness the sun’s rays? This would be the most efficient, cleanest and fastest way to access the mother load of energy that lies at the heart of our “solar” system. Now, in a seemingly unlikely place, local initiatives, new technologies, government concessions and private investments are coming together to make this a reality.
Welcome to Ladakh. With miles and miles of open land, high elevations, cool climes and clear skies, Ladakh is ripe for harnessing the unlimited energies of the sun. Its scant population and threadbare distribution network also make it an ideal consumer for deployment at faraway places cut off in the wintertime.
How is solar energy harnessed?
Energy from the sun can be captured in several ways. Ancient Buddhist Monks in Ladakh learnt long ago how to fashion reflective metal surfaces or movable “heating shields” in a way that would concentrate the sun’s energy on a single bowl of rice and eventually cook it to perfection.
Since then, tremendous advances in technology have allowed us to capture and store the sun’s rays using solar cells linked together in solar panels that convert them into usable electricity with very little wastage or cost. This energy can then be stored in reusable batteries and used at will for heating, cooking and powering most household appliances.
For more energy, one can link up many solar panels to make a solar farm or park. Such solar farms run on solar energy themselves and run on stored electricity when the sun doesn’t shine. Over time, they build up significant energy reserves that can then be distributed easily.
How can we use solar energy?
Using solar energy makes a lot of sense in the long term. It is especially apt for Ladakh due to three reasons: the ready availability of cascading sunlight, an urgent need to protect the fragile ecosystem and the need to feed faraway and inaccessible regions. The low particulate matter in the air and low temperatures are also a big boost for solar farming.
To use solar energy, all we have to do is install solar panels and other equipment that helps in turning abundant sunshine into electricity. This incurs a one-time cost but provides benefits far into the future. Luckily, many government schemes have been announced that aim to subsidize the cost of solar panels and aid in the widespread adoption of solar energy.
Once your own domestic “solar plant” is up and running, you can use it to power various machines. Electricity is extremely clean and easily transportable with power lines or batteries. If you create more energy that you use, you can also supply it back into the electrical grid, effectively running your electric meter backwards and getting paid for the energy you supply.
Successful use of Solar Energy
Many individuals and homeowners in Ladakh are leading the way and have already adopted solar energy with an eye on the future. One can see sparkling solar panels over the rooftops of many homes, schools, community buildings and government offices in Ladakh. The people of Ladakh have been the most aggressive early adopters of this technology compared to other states.
While many buildings are powered by solar energy in conjunction with legacy electricity connections, solar energy is slowly beginning to lift a significant part of the load. This is already positively impacting the environment of Ladakh and as technology advances and more investment comes in, Ladakh appears well on its way to a bright energy future.
Now, even bigger institutions like factories and resorts are eschewing fossil fuels and aiming to be a hundred per cent reliant on solar energy. One good example is a resort in Ladakh that was amongst the first to put up solar panels and implement systems to create a sustainable future for Ladakh.
Lchang Nang – The House of Trees is a luxury eco-resort in Nubra Valley that showcases innovative ways to reduce carbon footprints and decrease waste creation by using traditional Ladakhi and Buddhist methods interwoven with modern technology. They aim to create a unique kind of tourism that maximizes benefits while minimizing damage to the incredible ecosystem of this Himalayan paradise.
The Lchang Nang Retreat offers cottages made with traditional sustainable construction materials like stone, mud and wood, which naturally retain the heat. The earthen cottages also have a special insulated glass to minimize heat loss. These materials provide maximum comfort, the best protection and the longest life without negatively impacting the environment in any way.
Lchang Nang also uses solar energy to fuel most of its needs. All its cottages have a passive solar design and come equipped with individual 200L solar water heaters. Lchang Nang’s green policies have been so successful that other resorts in other parts of the world are learning from its example, helping Ladakh’s journey to the top of the list of sustainable destinations.
It is a journey that is destined to be fueled by solar energy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q 1. What hotel has solar power?
Ans. One prominent Hotel or resort in Ladakh that uses Solar Power for most of its needs is the Lchang Nang Retreat – The House of Trees. Lchang Nang uses solar energy to fuel most of its needs. An array of solar panels and enabling technologies ensure that the needs of guests are always met and at the same time, no harm comes to the environment.
Q 2.Is Ladakh good for solar energy?
Ans.With miles and miles of open land, high elevations, cool climes and clear skies, it is ripe for harnessing the unlimited energies of the sun. Its scant population and threadbare distribution network also make it the perfect marketplace for solar energy, which can easily be deployed at faraway places, especially when cut off in the wintertime.
Q 3.What is solar energy in hotels used for?
Ans. Solar energy is used in hotels for heating, cooking, lighting and powering many machines and appliances.
Q.4 Can solar panels power a hotel?
AnssYes. With enough solar panels, batteries and enabling technology, an entire hotel or resort can run on solar energy without the significant use of fossil fuels or the electric grid.