Project brings solar energy to dark, remote tribal villages
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
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.