Humanitarian Solar

2017 Colombia + Amazon Solar Projects

Using Solar to Reduce an Orphanage Electric Bill

On February 19th, Sunbridge Solar traveled to Colombia and to the Amazon and worked on two humanitarian solar projects alongside our Colombian partners Solosolar (now Sunbridge Colombia). The first humanitarian solar installation was installed on a rural orphanage outside of Bogota called Hogar San Mauricio. The second solar installation was for a nonprofit in the Amazon called Habitat Sur whose mission is to preserve indigenous cultures by teaching youth native language, dance, and handicrafts.

 

Solar Powering A Rural Orphanage In Colombia

The Hogar San Mauricio mission is to accept and protect with love the abandoned children of Colombia. Hogar San Mauricio provides the children with a safe living space, proper nutrition, education, and health services.

The orphanage currently helps more than 150 children at their two locations. Through volunteers and dedicated caregivers, the children at Hogar San Mauricio are able to realize a more fulfilling life through education and having a safe, nurturing environment. Unfortunately, the orphanage pays a large portion of their monthly operating costs to purchase expensive and dirty electricity.

In collaboration with Solosolar, we’ve designed a humanitarian solar system that will significantly reduce the monthly energy costs. While our 8-panel system design will only produce about two kilowatts of solar energy, it will reduce the operating costs by $9,375 over the next 25 years. This will save enough money to fully fund and send two additional orphans through primary education, each year! The solar panels will also be used to educate the children about solar energy and how it works.

 

Solar Powering A Nonprofit In The Amazon

Deep within the Amazon rainforest, the 600 acres Hábitat Sur Natural Reserve is a space dedicated to the protection of the rainforest, its biodiversity, and an experimentation of a more sustainable way of inhabiting the planet and to a permanent dialogue with the traditional knowledge of neighboring indigenous communities.

The 4-panel off grid solar system – which includes 4 kilowatts of energy storage – provides basic lighting to more effectively hold meetings at night and provide some basic electricity for the operation of the office during the day. With the addition of renewable power, Hábitat Sur will be able to better serve the cohesion between the indigenous people and guests without the need of burning diesel fuel.

2016 International Solar Projects

Bringing International Projects to the NW

2016 was a year where we brought the international projects to Portland instead of going abroad. Our commitment remains to work on one international project every year. This year we sponsored our friend and now business partner Jeevan Baidya to come visit us here in Portland from his home in Nepal.

We also met a young entrepreneur Natalia Gomez of Bogota, Colombia and invited her to work with us for a week. We believe that international projects should not be a one-off endeavor, but rather, we are working to create long-term relationships with key partners in other countries. Our hope is to return many times to work with the same international partners and potentially develop long-term projects with specific communities in those countries.

We are working to return back to Nepal in 2017 for a project and a possible humanitarian project in Colombia. More details to come… Subscribe to our blog to keep updated.

 

Jeevan Baidya Comes To Portland

During our trip to Nepal in 2015, we worked extensively with the project manager for Gham Power, Jeevan Baidya. As part of our 2015 project, we conducted a knowledge exchange with their staff. At that time we discussed Jeevan coming over to the US to visit us and work with us for a few weeks as a continuation of that knowledge sharing.

 

Jevan Baidya standing in front of solar panels.

 

This March 2016, Jeevan arrived for his 3 weeks stay in Portland. He stayed with Jordan Weisman, the owner of Sunbridge Solar. He spent his time split between the job site working alongside the crew and in the office working with the project management team. It was really intriguing to see what impressed Jeevan and sparked his interest and curiosity.

Besides being impressed with the quality of materials and solar installation processes, he was intrigued with the automation he noticed in everyday life such as google maps navigation on an iPhone, paid parking garages without attendants, and the video drives through ordering at Starbucks.

The long-term goal of sponsoring Jeevan to come here was to develop a partnership that will last for many years. With that, we are thrilled and proud to announce the formation of Sunbridge Solar Nepal Private Limited. Jeevan and his business partner Sabargaya will be heading up this Kathmandu-based business venture. Here at our US offices, we will support them as best we can. It is our hope that we will visit Nepal again in 2017 to work on our first Sunbridge collaborative project.

 

Natalia Gomez Comes To Portland

This year we attended Solar Power International (SPI), the largest solar conference in the US. We randomly sat next to a young entrepreneur from Bogota, Colombia at lunch one day. Natalia Gomez shared her plans of starting her own solar company back home. We invited her to come work with us for a week before returning home and she took us up on the offer. Natalia has a business background, mostly in import and export with Asia.

 
Image of Natalia from SoloSolar of Colombia | International Projects

Image of Natalia from SoloSolar of Colombia | International Projects

 

It was fantastic to have her work with us for a week. She brought a lot of energy and excitement to the Sunbridge team for the week she was here. She is back in Colombia now and starting Solosolar (now renamed to Sunbridge Colombia). We have reached a formal agreement with Solosolar where we will be their international partner and provide support on design and product selection.

In February of 2017, we will be traveling to Colombia to work on two international projects alongside Solosolar. We are thrilled to be expanding our reach and friendships to new corners of the world. Two weeks prior to departure, Solarsolar will be sending a technician to work and live with us in the states. By doing so we hope to strengthen our knowledge of solar and cement our new friendship with Solosolar.

We are looking very forward to the future international solar partnerships we are building!

Sunbridge Solar's New Office In Nepal

Sunbridge Solar is Excited to Announce

After a dream and a lot of hard work, we have established a sister-company with our good friends in Nepal. Using the same name, Sunbridge Solar Nepal is the brainchild of Jordan Weisman and Jeevan Baidya. The idea started back in 2013 when Jordan and the team were working with Jeevan on our humanitarian solar projects.

From a Dream into Reality

In his early twenties, Jordan spent a year in Nepal studying language, culture, and trekking. Those experiences formed a strong connection and bond to the country that has kept him returning over the years. On his fifth trip over in March 2015, Jordan brought along five Sunbridge employees to work alongside Gham Power, Kathmandu-based, a humanitarian solar installation company. During that trip, Sunbridge worked closely with Gham’s project manager Jeevan Baidya.

Jeevan grew up 8 miles east of the capital city of Kathmandu. After graduating with an electrical engineering degree, he had the necessary set of skills to start his career in the renewable energy industry. His first work was in Kathmandu was for a solar equipment manufacturer in 2009. He then spent five years working for Gham Power as their lead project manager. Fast forward to today, Jeevan has completed more than 1,000 solar installations, ranging large and small.

In June 2016, Jeevan visited us to discuss a possible relationship with Sunbridge Solar. Now we’re excited to be working with Jeevan on building a solar bridge between Portland and Nepal. Sunbridge is excited to develop humanitarian solar projects in Nepal and work on long-term community development projects with villages. There is so much need and potential all across Nepal for sustainable energy development. This partnership is the first step towards those goals.

Our Humanitarian Solar Partner in Nepal

Our Good Friend and Humanitarian Solar Partner, Jeevan

Jeevan Baidya was born and raised in Nepal. He grew up in Bhaktapur, about eight miles east of the capital city of Katmandu. Bhaktapur literally translates to Place of devotees. Also known as Bhadgaon or Khwopa, it is an ancient Newar city in the east corner of the Kathmandu Valley in Bhaktapur District in the Bagmati Zone.

Nepal's Current Grid Is Unreliable

From 2007-2010, the country of Nepal experienced 18 hours of blackout every day. 65% of the people in Nepal had no electricity at all,  as a result of the fact that no infrastructure existed. Nepal’s main source of power is hydroelectric advanced by India and China. Yet, the lack of infrastructure left the countryside with little or no power at all.

Jeevan's Background Leading To Solar

Jeevan completed his engineering degree in Katmandu at the age of 24. His core studies centered around electronic and communication studies. It would appear Jeevan was brazen in his choice of obtaining an engineering degree in a country that blacked itself out eighteen hours a day. The humanitarian solar community took an interest in Nepal and its lack of power. Two prominent organizations, Danida and Norad, from Denmark and Norway, respectively, worked to tackle rural Nepal’s power problem with humanitarian solar panel projects.

The organizations decided that without the necessary funding to build out infrastructure, solar energy was the only way to go. With jobs created and Jeevan having the necessary engineering skills, he became high in demand. His first job in 2009 was in Katmandu as a technical manager for a manufacturer of solar charge controllers.

In 2010, Jeevan joined a company that specialized in solar panel installations in urban and rural areas. To date, Jeevan has done more than a 1,000 solar installations ranging from schools, clinics, and residences.

In 2017, Jeevan is visiting us in Vancouver, Washington to discuss Sunbridge Solar’s future role in Nepal.