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KVK spreading Energy Innovations in Zanskar Valley of Kargil


Situation Analysis

 Zanskar is one among the cold arid inhabited highlands of the world, lying within an altitudinal range of 3500 m to 6478 m above mean sea level. It is the remotest and the least accessible part of Kashmir region where temperature ranges from -30°C to 28°C. To encounter the harsh winter, dung is the only source of energy in rural houses for cooking, water and space heating. Women toil hard to collect dung from grazing land and livestock sheds and store dung cakes for use during winter. LPG and electricity are not helpful due to freezing temperature of -30oC during peak winter from December-February and dung cake is the only source of energy in villages of picturesque valley.


Plan, Implementation and Testing

Sunshine in this region is quite intense and clear for around 300 days and can be one of the major source of energy to meet domestic needs of the community. Though the Government has installed solar stations to provide electricity in villages but this supply is mainly for lighting purposes. Other needs of cooking, space and water heating are met solely through animal dung.

Solar water heating systems of evacuation tube model have been installed by affluent families but are not successful as tube cracking in winter is quite common and difficult to repair. Burning of dung in households produce lot of smoke and leakage in living space affect human health in long run. Further, burning of dung deprive agriculture land of manure thus depleting soil fertility.


Efforts were made by KVK, Zanskar with the technical backstopping of SKUAST, Kashmir to design innovative panels from locally available material for water and space heating suitable for tribal community of Zanskar Valley of Ladakh region. Solar panels are fabricated on wood frame available in local households. Other material used in this is galvanized iron (GI) sheet as absorber and Galvanized Iron (GI) Pipe/ Aluminum alloy coil (3.75- 4.0 cm internal diameter) with inlet and outlet connection for water on two ends. Absorber GI sheet is fixed in the centre of wood frame. Backside of the absorber sheet is insulated with thermocol sheet (3.75 cm) glued with bitumen and covered on outer side with thin aluminum sheet for protection. On the front illuminated side of the absorber sheet is fixed with GI or aluminum water coil with reducers (2.5 cm) to outlet and inlet of water protruding through the wood frame for cold water and hot water connections. Absorber sheet and aluminum water coil is coated with black paint having fine carbon powder produced locally from specific wood which increased efficiency of solar energy absorption. At the top of coil panel it is covered with two layers of window glass (4mm) having 1.25 cm distance to hold air for insulation. Panel is installed at 45o angel on the roof top facing south to capture maximum sunlight.

Panel coil hold 18.0 liters of water and is heated to 70-80oC within 30-45 minute of solar illumination. Household member can draw 100-120 liters of hot water in clear sunny day for household purpose without burning fire place for water heating. These conditions promote efficiency of this system to maximum and replacement of GI pipe coil design with aluminum tube coil improves quality of hot water and is of potable quality and can also be used for cooking. Specially designed cold water inlet with antifreeze and silt drainage outlet was fitted for better efficiency with manual filling during winter when water supply from pipes is not available.

Solar space heating panel is same as that of solar water heating panel without water coil. The panel is fixed on south facing wall of the living room with air went at the lower and upper end. When black absorber sheet of the panel is heated with sun through glazing air between glazing and absorber sheet is heated and moves up and enter through upper went in living space. Vacuum is created between glazing and absorber space and cold air enter here from room. This way air siphon is created and the room air is heated to a comfortable level without any active use of energy. Therefore this panel is also known Thermosyphoning Air Heating Panel (TAP). Testing of this technology revealed that low cost solar panels heated 120 liters of cold water (110C) into boiled water (840C) in 35 minutes. Availability of hot water and heated space will reduce indoor pollution and hygiene of tribal people through regular bathing and washing of cloths. This will also save precious time of tribal women in collecting dung from field.

These innovative solar panels made of locally available material are cost effective with least post installation maintenance and can easily be fabricated by local artisan (carpenter). Local artisans were trained by KVK to fabricate and install in villages and repair if need arises.



After successful testing of technology, KVK, Zanskar piloted this project at few places in the valley and found feasible with good results. Tribal people are also very happy to use this technology. Looking into the response from tribal community, these innovative low cost solar heaters have been installed at 158 houses by arranging funds from Science for Equity Empowerment and Development Division (SEED), Department of Science and Technology (DST), Govt. of India. Looking into the benefits and practical utility of this technology, Ladakh Development Council (LDC) of District Kargil has also come forward to replicate this technology on large scale. Design, development and demonstration of the technology of solar water and space heating by KVK, Zanskar will go a long way in demonstration of this technology not only in Zanskar valley but also in other parts of Alpine region of Kashmir.