A new book ‘Advance in Thin-Film Solar Energy’ (Pan Stanford Publishing 2012) discusses how solar energy can be used in everyday society as a sustainable source of energy enabling development.
The author, Professor IM Dharmadasa (1977 Commonwealth Scholar PhD Solid State Electronics, Durham University), is Professor and Head of the Electronic Materials and Sensors Group at Sheffield Hallam University. His new book builds on his research and pilot project (the ‘solar village’) looking at alternatives to expensive silicon solar panels, with thin film solar cells made from low-cost manufacturing materials.
The book looks at highly technical research, but in particular Chapter 10 is designed to be accessible for policy makers and political decision makes to demonstrate how solar energy can be utilised for cost-effective sustainable social development in communities across the world.
Professor Dharmadasa has been involved with the ‘solar village’ project since the 1990s. The scheme improves the standard of living for a remote cluster of villages where there are no modern facilities available. Solar power is used to provide power and water at minimal cost. A local university also adopts the village to provide support and raise awareness of the possible development benefits. At the pilot project in Kaduruwea village, staff and students from the University of Sri Jayawardenepura have supported the community. With the advantages of power and water supplies, and the savings made using solar power, villagers have embarked on new initiatives such as tree plantations, honey production, vegetable farming using dry land and microfinance schemes.
The pilot village project serves only 130 families, but a new solar village at Moneragala will cater for 300 families. The ‘solar village’ project can be implemented anywhere that would benefit from the low-cost utilities provided by solar power, and will vary according to the local community and its available resources. Professor Dhamadasa is working with universities and Africa Aid for a pilot project in Nigeria.