High-level photovoltaics


From pv magazine Spain

The challenge is not at all simple: climbing Nepal's Manaslu Peak, the world's eighth highest, in the middle of winter and in the midst of a pandemic.

For Alex Txikon, a 39-year-old climber from Vizcaya, Spain, this expedition has a special interest: if he is successful, it will be the first time anyone has reached the Manaslu summit in the middle of winter.

Image: Alex Txikon

Txikon, who is accompanied by Simone Moro, Iñaki Álvarez and the Sherpas Cheppal, Kalden and Namja, has always defended the idea of sustainable and respectful mountaineering in the semi-virgin environment he usually crosses.

For this reason, he has been collaborating for years with the EKI foundation – a Basque association that has provided electricity supply (mainly photovoltaic solar) to educational, health, and social interest centers in developing countries since 2017.

The foundation is an initiative of Spanish photovoltaic company Solarpack, and specifically, its Vice President José Galíndez. Thanks to the support of Eki, Txikon now has two portable, folding photovoltaic systems that will allow the expedition to avoid using any type of fossil fuels during their ascent.

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Txikon's expedition also aims to leave a positive mark on the local population. Via Eki, it will donate 50 isolated, photovoltaic powered lights for a school in the area.

Furthermore, the expedition will not use plastic bottles, thanks to a filtering system provided by the “startup” Aquadat. The team will instead use a 0.1 micron water filter system that removes harmful organisms, like 99.999% bacteria and protozoa. In this way, Txikon's team hopes to save 4,000 1-liter water bottles during the expedition.

Currently, the group is struggling to reach the summit. According to the Txikon Twitter account, the team is looking at alternatives to overcome a large crack that separates the camp at height 1 from the camp at height 2 – which is about 6,900 meters high. Although the weather forecasts are good, it is not guaranteed that they can reach the top.

To date, the Eki Foundation has participated in 31 projects, mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa. In total, it has installed over 320 KWp worth of  small systems of between 1 and 40 KW in villages, health centers and socio-educational centers. According to the association, the number of beneficiaries numbers more than 220,000 people in countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, DR Congo and Cape Verde.

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