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Sustainable Energy

From Chitradurga, India: A magical, solar-powered school

Image courtesy SELCO.
Image courtesy SELCO.

A dearth of energy resources and skilled teachers in rural India means students lack access to modern computer technology. A traveling, e-learning school bus powered by the sun might roll its way to a better rural education solution.

Designed by India-based SELCO, a solar electric company, the bus travels with a well-trained teacher, and it can accommodate up to 50 students daily. Outfitted with 400 watts of solar modules, 10 laptops, fans and lights, it can be used for at least six hours a day. The laptops recharge primarily through solar power but can be plugged in, too.

Motoring through rural villages in Chitradurga since January 2012, the bus has reached “60 schools and 2,081 children,” the The New Indian Express reported in early September. The bus, funded by Don Bosco Industries, intends to reach at least 10,000 children.

With 15 successful years of solar innovation in India, SELCO and its well-known founder Harish Hande have a good track record for implementing solutions to poor communities and fulfilling a mission to provide “sustainable energy solutions and services to under-served households and businesses.”

The Don Bosco School plans to educate every child in the Chitradurga district. At Rs 2.17 lakh, or about USD$4,000 per bus, we’ll keep our eye on this nascent solution and see if it proves to be a sustainable venture in rural education.

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