Solar Alternatives and Associated Programmes
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Solar Alternatives and Associated Programmes (SAAP) is a nonprofit organization in the Indian state of Bihar that produces solar devices, to save trees and to provide a dependable energy supply. Founded in 1996 by Fr. M.M. Mathew, SAAP uses the “solar bridge” technology developed in Germany by Wolfgang Scheffler.
Beginnings and purpose
M.M. Mathew developed an interest in solar energy while working with the student forum on the environment Tarumitra ("Friends of Trees"). He went on to Gujarat in early 1996 to study renewable energy under Wolfgang Scheffler, the inventor of the solar concentrated Scheffler community cooker. Mathew then, with the support of the Patna Jesuits, founded a solar manufacturing unit at St. Mary's church compound in Patna. The Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources (MNES) approved this venture for use countrywide, and engineers from Germany and Switzerland assisted.
A vocational training program affiliated with the National Institute of Open Schooling was also set up. Among its initiatives the school trains around 15 students a year free of cost, half from the USA and UK, in using solar energy. It also provides local peoples consutation and advice at no charge.
In 2014 SAAP hosted a group of students from the University of Dayton in the USA who focused on solar panels that ran refrigerators in clinics in rural areas, where loss of power causes vaccines to be ruined by the heat. These strudents from Dayton took what they learned back to the States and produced a solar-powered refrigerator that won the American Society of Civil Engineers 2016 award for the best sustainable engineering design by a student team.
Research and outcomes
The research and development wing of SAAP has developed a prototype solar-powered cycle rickshaw. SAAP has also developed a solar crematorium which saves on trees and is a cheaper option for the poor.
Tripolia Social Service Hospital, a private charitable hospital in Patna, is one institution that has been totally outfitted by SAAP solar technology, to sterilise medical equipment, sanitise the hospital’s laundry, heat water for baths and medicines, light outdoor pathways at night, and power a residential building and office. The solar dishes track the movement of the sun.
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