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Village leader spearheads renewable energy project, allowing community to flourish amid severe droughts: 'There is no more air or soil pollution'

It became clear … that a more efficient alternative was needed.

It became clear ... that a more efficient alternative was needed.

Photo Credit: iStock

Heri Purwanto was the head of a village in Java always running low on water. His village of Krincing was remote enough that it did not have enough access to water to adequately irrigate the rice fields that kept the village fed.

According to One Earth, diesel-fueled pumps had been used by previous village heads to divert water from the nearby Elo River, but the cost of oil meant that they could only remain operational for a month. It became clear to Purwanto that a more efficient alternative was needed.

Watching the failure of the gas-powered pump drove him to research other solutions, and he began reading about solar panels.

He brought his findings to the village meeting, and the people of Krincing decided to invest in an electric irrigation system. This new system would divert extra water from the Elo River using an electric pump powered by solar panels imported from Germany.

The installation of 64 solar panels cost the village $9,088 in village funds and Purwanto purchased a water pump for $6,400, but the benefits have been monumental.

Purwanto described the situation before the installation of the solar pump. "Out of 80 hectares, 30 hectares have water shortages during the dry season," he told One Earth

After the installation of the pump and construction of a complete irrigation system, the solar power generated by the village's investment will be enough to water 70-80 hectares, more than enough to make up the deficit.

A rice farmer named Fera from the Krincing area said that the new system had more than doubled his yield; his fields had previously produced 1.7 tons, but in the year of the solar pump's installation, they produced five.

Purwanta's plan for Krincing could be a model for villages struggling with energy worldwide. Many similar places rely on diesel generators, but those only provide short-term relief for a problem that isn't going away.

As noted by One Earth, the cost of gas to power generators is prohibitive, and its usage pollutes the local environment and contributes to the greenhouse effect. Electrifying infrastructure in rural areas is an essential decision that can benefit people regardless of whether they live in the richest or poorest nations in the world.

The United Nations has stated that this sort of electrification is a priority, and in cases like that of Purwanta's village it can be transformative.

Access to water and increasing crop yields are paramount benefits, but Purwanta does not forget to mention the environment as well. "And there is no more air or soil pollution," he said, according to One Earth. For rural people around the world, electrification can be a method of subsistence that doesn't destroy the land they live on.

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