Barefoot College, since 1989, has been harnessing the sun’s energy to help rural communities thrive through applying solar energy solutions in four critical areas of village life: 1) solar electrification of 1000+ villages, 2) hot water, 3) solar cookers, and 4) fresh drinking water through solar powered desalination.
Each of the solar electrification solutions pioneered in rural, remote, non-electrified villages by Barefoot College has proved that both illiterate and semi-literate men and women can fabricate, install, use, repair and maintain sophisticated solar units through basic knowledge share and intense hands-on practical training. The Barefoot College has harnessed solar energy not only to provide light but also to create employment for the unemployable, to boost income for the poor, to save the environment by reducing carbon emission and not cutting trees, and most importantly, to provide self-reliant solutions within village life.
For the solar electrification of villages, Barefoot College annually trains about 100 grandmothers from India and 80 grandmothers from international rural villages located in the least developed countries as per the UN. The grandmothers complete a comprehensive 6 month solar engineering training program at Barefoot College campus in India where they learn how to light up solar home units, solar lamps, and charge controllers. Upon completion of training, the grandmothers return to their village to electrify upto 250 households with solar lighting units and assume the responsibility of repair and maintenance for a minimum of 5 years. They play a key role in sustaining and replicating solar technology in rural communities by training other women and managing the finances of the solar workshop. The solar electrification program benefits the villages through save money on kerosene and wood and increasing the time spent on education and livelihood.
Barefoot College’s solar water heater solution provides rural communities access to a smoke free and eco-friendly source of heating water as well as to generate employment for unemployed rural youth. The solar water heater engineers are trained to fabricate, install, repair and maintain two varieties of solar heaters, oil-based and non oil-based, that can store upto 300 liters of water. More than 70 solar water heaters have been manufactured and are benefiting hundreds of people living in rural, remote villages in 8 states of India. The 2.5 square metre, 130kg parabolic solar cookers used to cook food are fabricated, installed and maintained to precise measurements by illiterate and semi-literate women. The eco-friendly solar cookers used in Indian villages feed more than 400 people every day.
The solar powered desalination plant setup by Barefoot College, the first of its kind in India, is a joint partnership with the scientific community that produces 600 litres of water per hour, for 6 hours every day.
The methodology applied for rural solar electrification of villages in India and the world’s least developed countries is unique to the Barefoot College. Only villages that are inaccessible, remote and non-electrified are considered for solar electrification.Read more
Parabolic Solar Cooker
Building a 2.5 square meter parabolic solar cooker demands high accuracy and skill in metal craftsmanship. A craft that has traditionally been synonymous with men is today being practiced by village women.Read more
Solar Water Heater (SWH)
Solar water heaters, storing upto 300 liters, are made by rural Barefoot fabrication engineers. They are available in two varieties – oil-based and non oil-based.Read more
Solar Powered Desalination Plant & Reverse Osmosis
India’s first ever solar powered Reverse Osmosis plant installed by Barefoot College produces 600 litres of water per hour, for 6 hours every day providing access to drinking water for over 1000 villagers.Read more