Solar energy for the Mount Everest Sherpa Museum, a hospital and two schools


A Reinhold Messner Foundation project aims at improving the sustainability of mountain tourism by bringing renewable solar energy to a museum, hospital and two schools in the Mount Everest region. The goal is to redesign the Solukhumbu Valley Namche Bazar Sherpa Culture Museum, the Kunde Sherpa Hospital in Khumjung, and the Shree Himalayan primary and secondary schools in in Namche Bazar with solar panels and a solar battery to store energy for electricity and hot water.

Mountains are magical places: they are of unique beauty and cannot be ‘owned’. They are universal gardens of humanity that can be explored with sound preparation and often help from locals. They are also like islands, remote and challenging to get to. Furthermore, mountain ecosystems are decisive for the welfare of the plains: the water from the Himalayas, for example, supplies billions of people downstream with freshwater every day.

However, when it comes to sustainability, mountains are lagging behind. The world of extreme climbers, a world fuelled by adrenaline and a sense of adventure, began with the first expeditions of the 1920s and finds itself today with an unsustainable model. There is great contrast between the high inflow of tourists and the waste that remains along with the unsustainable supply of energy in the form of oil brought in plastic canisters tied to yaks. 

Fortunately, there is opportunity for action at limited costs. Solar PV technology is a solution for off grid areas and remote and isolated places like islands or mountains. This project aims to apply solar solutions to public buildings, starting with the Namche Bazar Everest Sherpa Culture Museum. The unique and now expanded museum welcomes thousands of visitors every year – both from abroad and from the region – and preserves the precious Sherpa culture. Sherpas are a people that inhabit the mountainous areas of the Himalayas. Many foreigners who travel to the Himalayas do so in order to hike its trails or to summit its 8 000 metre (m) peaks, and many rely on the invaluable aid of the intrepid Sherpa.

Once this project is successfully implemented in the museum in May/June 2021, the Kunde Sherpa Hospital – which is located at 4 000 m and serves over 8 000 people from the region every year – redesign would come next, followed by the two schools.

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News by the Reinhold Messner Foundation

Photo by Ben Lowe on Unsplash

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