Project brings so­lar en­ergy to dark, re­mote tribal vil­lages

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY SUN HSIN- HSUAN

Vil­lagers of the Skadang tribe

) and Huhus tribe ( ) car­ried so­lar power equip­ment weigh­ing up to 70 kilo­grams, walk­ing from the en­trance of Taroko Na­tional Park (

) to their two vil­lages 1,000 me­ters above sea level, deep in the moun­tains of Shoulin Town­ship ( ) in Hualien County the day be­fore yes­ter­day.

“This is a forgotten land which nei­ther Thomas Alva Edi­son nor Chunghwa Tele­com (CT,

) can reach,” said a tribesman,

( re­veal­ing that elec­tric­ity has yet to find its way into the tribal vil­lages. The vil­lages have long been lit only by can­dle­light.

Some vil­lagers chose to re­main in the moun­tains de­spite lack­ing proper road con­nec­tions to the outer world when both vil­lages re­lo­cated closer to the city around 36 years ago, said Wei Guo-guang ( ), an of­fi­cial of the Shoulin Town­ship Of­fice ( ). “How­ever, as the area was later pre­served as part of the Taroko Na­tional Park, ap­pli­ca­tions for road con­struc­tion have been sub­ject to strict scru­tiny and have yet to be ap­proved,” added Wei.

Con­se­quently, elec­tric­ity con­struc­tion could not take place with­out proper roads for con­struc­tion ve­hi­cles be­ing built, said the manger of Tai­wan Power Com­pany ( Taipower, ) Hualien Branch ( ) Tsai Ching-tan ( ). Pos­si­ble col­lab­o­ra­tions to es­tab­lish elec­tric­ity con­nec­tions are still be­ing dis­cussed by Taipower and Shoulin Town­ship Of­fice, he said.

So­lar Project Lights the

Vil­lages

A project aimed at light­ing up the vil­lages has been launched by Tainan Com­mu­nity Uni­ver­sity (TCU, ), with lec­turer Lin Yuan-li ( ) lead­ing the task and con­tact­ing vil­lagers.

Ac­cord­ing to Lin, TCU raised NT$ 220,000, which was then used to pur­chase eight sets of so­lar en­ergy equip­ment that can pro­vide up to 1,250 watts of elec­tric­ity, ac­com­mo­dat­ing the vil­lages for two to three days even with­out sun­shine.

“The ul­ti­mate goal is for the so­lar pan­els to cre­ate suf­fi­cient elec­tric­ity for the vil­lagers all year long, and that the vil­lages be en­tirely in­de­pen­dent from Taipower,” said Lin.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from TCU trans­ferred the so­lar en­ergy equip­ment to the en­trance of Taroko Gorge ( ) on Mon­day, April 20, where they met vil­lagers, in­clud­ing women and chil­dren, led by the el­ders of the tribes. Five tribes­men then car­ried the so­lar en­ergy equip­ment weigh­ing up to 70 kilo­grams for a 4-hour walk all the way back into the moun­tains. “If vil­lagers re­spond well to the so­lar en­ergy, this project will pro­ceed,” added Lin.

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