In a world where renewable energy resources gain an ever more importance, AirJaldi is doing its own little part and by constantly increasing our use of solar energy.
The backbone infrastructure our network in Kumoan, Uttrakhand is now 100% solar-powered backbone, as are 80% of the relays in our Teri Garwhal network. Covering around 50 square kilometres each, our work proves that major rural connectivity infrastructure can be totally off-grid, benefiting from abundant sunlight, mitigating dependency on scarce resources, and providing needed freedom to place relays and connect clients where desired and needed.
Environmental benefits are not the only considerations for our decisions to “go solar”. We always try to make use of its surroundings (utilization of a region’s topography is at the core of our approach to rural connectivity) and in most of the places where we work sun is available in abundance. Furthermore, rural environment provides us with challenges we need to combat all the time. One such issue is the extreme power fluctuations and outages common to rural India, which can result in the burning of power adaptors, leaving the antennas powerless.
Lack of financial viability is often the response from organisation requiring energy in rural areas. We disagree, as although the initial cost of a solar panel is more expensive than utilizing the existing grid, the long-term stability and – given proper design and installation – little need for maintenance, makes solar energy far more financially sound than bearing the cost of constant troubleshooting and occasional burnout of equipment.
Hitting the “financial viability sweet spot” requires planning – one has to carefully consider the energy consumption of equipment and factor that into the choices of the types of routers, computers and peripherals deployed. Our ability to create a fully-solar backbone is a direct result of using low-powered equipment and understanding the different environmental realities of our networks.
For us, the Jaldi team, the use of solar power is not done for moral posturing but for sheer practicality. If more organisations were to embrace the actual efficiency of renewable energy perhaps the world will be a far better condition in years to come. For AirJaldi rural wireless broadband development is the main task. In such places, renewable energy can never be too far away.