After 15 months of planning and implementation, Panels For Progress has officially completed its first solar installation on the Children’s Home project in Chiang Rai, Thailand. This 20kW rooftop system was made possible by our partners- First Solar, Not For Sale Organization, and Toledo Community Foundation- as well as the support and dedication of individual donors and volunteers.
Constructed of thin film panels and spanning the roofs of 3 separate buildings, the system will provide clean, affordable energy for the project’s 180 children and 4 full time staff, as well as feed any excess energy back to the grid for use by the surrounding communities. In its entirety, the monetary value of the system and its component parts is an estimated $90,000 and the value of the electricity costs saved by our nonprofit partner, Volunteers for Children’s Development, is roughly 300,000 thai baht (or $9,500 USD) year after year, for a projected span of 20 years. Based on EPA Emissions data, and with a system of this size, we estimate that over 25,000 KwH in energy will be saved and 17.2 metric tons of CO2 emissions will be reduced. More importantly, the residents of this project, mostly children who have been human trafficked or at risk for this type of abuse, will now have a reliable source of electricity for their on-site water pumps, air conditioning, refrigeration, and soon to be unveiled computer technology center which will provide them with internet access for the first time. Additionally, we are repurposing a handful of extra panels to be used as mobile charging stations which, when connected to a simple car battery, can produce electricity that can then be sold at an hourly rate to surrounding villagers, thereby becoming an additional revenue stream.
The installation was a complete success as was our on-site training for the children and staff which covered the various forms of renewable energy, the solar industry in Thailand, the basics of how their photovoltaic rooftop system functions, and the benefits of these resources. For the older children, the most impactful takeaway was that Thailand is undergoing a rapid expansion of solar electrification projects due in large part to strong government support, and as a result, the demand for solar technicians has skyrocketed making it an attractive technical job opportunity.
This first project was a successful proof of concept and a great launchpad to establish longterm partnership potential with various solar equipment manufactures and installation companies eager to donate their resources and services to good causes. For a more detailed impact report on this project, check out our Featured Projects section and stay tuned for updates on our next project, pending Fall, 2013.