Langley’s SSE Data May Help Power Afghanistan
by Julia Cole, SAIC
Solar Household Energy, Inc. (SHE) recently
confirmed that enough sunlight reaches Afghanistan to power solar cookers
for people without electricity.
SHE made the determination
using information from Langley Research Center’s Surface Meteorology and
Solar Energy (SSE) project.
“SSE data are now being used to
justify putting solar cookers in Afghanistan, and we’re really excited about
that,” said Paul Stackhouse, manager of the SSE project. “This study is a
demonstration of how NASA research can benefit humankind in a small but
SHE advises private entrepreneurs on how to
introduce solar cookers to developing countries and conducts research on
solar energy technologies.
“SSE data are readily accessible to
everyone,” said Darwin Curtis of SHE. “When a solar cooker project is
proposed somewhere, the first question must be: Is there enough sun? We are
only able to determine this with some certitude by consulting the NASA
Surface Meteorology and Solar Energy Data Set.”
convert satellite data of weather and sunlight at the Earth’s surface into
measurements useful to the renewable energy community. Using this
information, SHE discovered that solar cookers could be used at least eight
months of the year in the northern town of Mazar e Sharif and for more than
10 months in the southern town of Qandahar.
sources are important in Afghanistan because the majority of the country’s
population does not have access to electricity. As a result, people rely
upon an increasingly dwindling number of trees for firewood or costly
imported fuels. Solar cookers can meet immediate energy needs at the local
level while government officials create a solution to the nation’s power
“The SSE data set has great potential for a country like
Afghanistan, where a large portion of their infrastructure is inoperable or
has been destroyed,” Stackhouse said. “Using solar energy to provide power
is a great alternative that is relatively cheap.”
Information from the SSE project could also have other benefits.
“We’re hoping that there will be a lot of uses for the data that will enable
rebuilding,” Stackhouse said. “Solar and wind energy could be used to power
water pumps for irrigation, and precipitation data could help officials
decide which crops would grow the best in different regions.”
SSE data is available on the project’s Web site:
In the first three years of
operation, the number of registered users of the Web site, including major
energy companies, financial institutions and federal agencies, has grown to
more than 2,000 from nearly 100 countries.
Center’s Surface Meteorology and Solar Energy (SSE) scientists
convert satellite data of weather and sunlight at the Earth’s
surface into measurements useful to the renewable energy community.
Using this information, Solar Household Energy, Inc. recently
confirmed that enough sunlight reaches Afghanistan to power solar
cookers for people without electricity.
of the DOE/NREL Photographic Information Exchange