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Solar Empowerment of Nomads in Rural Mongolia


Solar power is not only an environmentally friendly alternative, but in many cases the only available source of energy.

One third of the Mongolian population is living a nomadic life. They sustain livestock and move seasonally across the vast Mongolian grasslands, bringing with them their Ger— foldable traditional homes made of felt and yak’s wool. Their whereabouts range in infinite areas, hours away from a paved road and maybe days away from a village.

When you constantly travel with all of your belongings, you are much less dependent on things—you carefully choose to own and carry only what is essential. And one of the few technologies that has become ubiquitous in Mongolian Ger is solar.

Image credit: Kevin Kelly

The Mongolian government launched the “National 100,000 Solar Ger Electrification Program”, an initiative to provide nomads with portable solar home systems (SHS). Simple portable panels and batteries, easy to set up and carry, have become a modern accessory in the traditional nomad homes.

They power LED light bulbs to light up the evenings. They power mobile phones and radios, providing vital information on weather conditions and connecting the nomads with the outside world—be it their children, who stay in dorms during the school year, or a rescue service, in case of need. Even in the age of technology, the freedom of nomadic lifestyle is sustained by the environment: empowered by the Sun.

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