Mounting the panels.

Past Project: OpenPower Nepal

OpenPower Nepal was about designing and building a system for electricity generation that can be assembled and maintained locally. With your support, Urs Riggenbach built this at the Maya Universe Academy in Nepal this spring. All plans developed will be released to the public, so that the framework can be adopted and adapted by others in need.

Project Blog

Senior Project Presentation

Urs Riggenbach : September 9, 2012 5:56 am : : Leave a response »

I gave this presentation as part of the graduation week summarizing the project.

Senior Project Report

Urs Riggenbach : May 24, 2012 6:10 pm : : Leave a response »

You can download the PDF with the following link: Senior Project Report (PDF, 104MB).

If you have a slow internet connection, consider downloading the low resolution version (PDF, 7MB).

You can download the source documents on this page.

Milestone III: Solar Concentrator

Urs Riggenbach : April 22, 2012 2:04 pm : : Leave a response »

Adjusting the bending device

Just three days ago I left the Maya School and Nepal to return back to Switzerland and ultimately go back to the College of the Atlantic in the US — one month left until graduation!

Holding a finished mirror

A lot of exciting things have happened on the solar concentrator front that I can share in pictures now, and later in practical building plans. Even though we have not finished the construction of the concentrator we have gotten far enough to prove the concepts I developed.

Things do take longer over here, I have to say! Be it ordering things from businesses, dealing with the government, or just getting around: Often there are political strikes that shutdown the transportation system. Just last week a 3 day strike was announced and I had to return to Kathmandu earlier to not risk missing my flight. Nonetheless it has been a great country to work in as its people are very approachable and helpful.

Scaffolding allows for dynamic construction

A few days ago I officially joined the development team. Through the past months I have been working with Eerik Wissenz of to adapt his solar concentrator to Nepal. This summer we are organizing a SolarFire workshop at my farm in Switzerland, where we hope to develop our plans further and train more people, so that either I or someone else can return to Nepal and finish the OpenPower Nepal build.

Instead of calling this project a failure because I didn’t complete it in time, I am counting this time as valuable ground work towards the project’s goal. The steam engine will reach soon, the boiler is manufactured and all the contacts have been made for the supplies of mirrors, tools and materials. I hope to be able to return to Nepal after one year if not earlier.

Local, cheap materials: Cutting strings off of a rubber tube

The design I developed was centered around local materials, buildability and being low-cost. Instead of going with a central mast from which mirrors are suspended, I decided to use wheels on flat ground, and a free standing boiler. The corner-pieces with wheels were purchased from Kathmandu and welded to completion in a local shop. Everything else was clamped together with scaffolding. The parts of the structure that had to be geometrically accurate were done with 1.5″ metal piping, and all other supports were local bamboo cut from Maya Universe Academy’s land. The first row we installed was also welded by in a local shop.

More Pictures

Day 88: Fixing the First Mirror

Urs Riggenbach : April 22, 2012 1:19 pm : : Leave a response »

In the following video the first mirror is adjusted and attached to the solar concentrator frame.

Milestone II: Biomass Heater and Steam Engine

Urs Riggenbach : April 12, 2012 3:19 am : : Leave a response »

Project Description Letter in Nepali

For the last week I worked on getting the shipment from TinyTech delivered. Instead of the 10 days I was told initially, the shipment reached the border only after more than 40 days.
At the border we tried to work out a cut in import duty, which could come to anywhere between 5 to 35%, so it is worth the work. I also met with different ministers and government offices, and by now I am clear about many pathways to duty-free imports into Nepal, none of which apply to our immediate situation, but are good to know for the future.

Unfortunately by the time the shipment will reach Kathmandu, I will have left the country to finish my studies at College of the Atlantic. The shipment will be stored and implement  at Maya School in my next visit.

Steam engine connected to generator, biomass heater in background. Photo taken at TinyTech, India

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