Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE) has announced the second edition of its journey and the launch of the expedition website www.ghe.co.in. What makes this year’s expedition special is the inaugural Clean Himalayan Journey from Delhi to Leh to be covered entirely on an Electric Powered Vehicle (EV), the journey will be led by Robert Swan, OBE. Swan is a UN Goodwill Ambassador and the first man to have walked to both the poles on earth. This will be Swan's second clean journey after his voyage for cleaner energy to Antarctica. The electric vehicle will cover about 1300 kilometers between Delhi and Ladakh passing through Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. Throughout the journey, the expedition team members will reach out to people and raise awareness about clean energy, electric vehicle and its benefits.
Speaking about this, Swan said, “This year the team wishes to further promote the idea of use of clean energy. We decided to undertake this journey as a display of how clean energy is an effective alternative to traditional fossil fuel based transportation systems. Going through some of the toughest terrains, on one of the highest stretches of roadways in the world, the team wants to show that if an EV can take on this challenge, then it can very well work anywhere. Once in Leh, the EV will be used to transport students and people from the other parts of the city to reach the E-Base, built by the team during last year’s expedition, and work at the facility.”
The GHE team wants this to be the first step in the introduction of more EVs in Ladakh. This would help in reducing the rapidly rising pollution levels in this city, and also will decrease the burden of hauling fossil fuels all the way up the mountains. The region is one of the most suitable regions for year long solar energy generation, and the same can be used to refuel these EVs.
In addition to the clean Himalayan journey, this year the expedition will focus on providing energy access to remote Himalayan regions.
The quest has not ended as this year the GHE team will be involved in setting up a DC Solar Micro Grid in one of the villages already identified as part of the four day long trek. Electrification through centralised grid and power line distribution has not reached many of these sparsely located rural mountain communities due to low demand and high cost of providing energy access. The Ladakh Renewable Energy Development Agency (LREDA) will be supporting GHE in selecting a remote village and connecting the team with its local community on the utilisation and upgradation of power generation resources.
The 2014 expedition participants will be setting up these sustainable and socially oriented infrastructures to be eventually owned and maintained by the local communities. These sustainable solutions will enable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and protect the fragile ecosystem, which in turn will also enable increased income generation activities in the region.
Paras Loomba, founder, GHE, said, “Bringing these people out of darkness must be the priority of everyone who is equipped to do so and not just the Indian government. These areas are untapped markets for solar products and for sustainable energy resources. It should also be the priority of successful people and corporates that have prospered in the last two decades to be acutely aware that the social fabric of the country cannot accommodate inequality of access to basic services of this magnitude. LREDA and GHE will identify territories where micro grids could operate and help setup electricity infrastructure while encouraging the community on the use of solar energy access for additional income generation activities.”
Elaborating about the expedition Col Loomba, advisor, GHE, said, “The 2013 inaugural expedition brought together some amazing participants from eight different countries. They ranged from sustainability consultants from Netherlands, to investment bankers from UK, to media professionals from USA, to the CEO of Azure Power, to graduates from top business schools including Yale and Kellogg among many other entrepreneurs and professionals. This year too we expect a good response to our initiative. The EV journey from Delhi to the E-Base in Leh will be an added element to GHE, making it one of the most successful efforts in India in the field of sustainable tourism.