IEEE Smart Village to be Featured on National Geographic Series BREAKTHROUGH

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Posted On: 05.23.2017

Critically Acclaimed Series Highlights IEEE Engineers & Volunteers Bringing Solar Power to Himalayan Monastery & Changing Lives Around the World

Piscataway, N.J. – On June 6th, 2017, the sixth episode of National Geographic’s critically-acclaimed series BREAKTHROUGH will air at 10/9c, which prominently features the work of IEEE Smart Village (ISV) and partner organizations to bring solar power to an ancient monastery in the Himalayan mountains for the first time.

In its second season, BREAKTHROUGH shines a light on the world’s leading scientists, cutting-edge innovations, and technological advancements that change lives through stories about the people and technology behind these breakthroughs, and shows how these technological advancements are reshaping our world. The June 6 episode is the season finale and is directed by Shalini Kantayya and narrated by Chris Pine. BREAKTHROUGH airs on National Geographic in 171 countries and 45 languages.

Every year, worldwide consumption of electricity grows, yet there are still 1.3 billion people on earth who have never had access to power. Those who do have grid power in rural areas of developing countries rural areas quickly learn that it may be present only a few random hours in a day, if at all. But there is a better way to bring energy to the people: self-contained solar generation systems that collect energy from the sun, store it in batteries and distribute it via low voltage DC or AC Microgrids. In this episode, a team of dedicated engineers and hardy volunteers makes an arduous trek across the high Himalayas to install 14 DC microgrids in a remote monastery village. The team was organized and led by Paras Loomba, the passionate founder of Global Himalayan Expedition (an ISV partner). ISV provided funding for the project.

“Because of this program, so many more people will learn about the great work of IEEE Smart Village,” said ISV senior program manager Mike Wilson. “National Geographic certainly captured the drama of this project, from the challenge of traversing rough terrain and staving off altitude sickness with solar panels in tow to training the village monks on how to operate the microgrids as well as the newly installed satellite Internet education system.  But with new access to electricity as well as educational and entrepreneurial opportunities, these engineers and volunteers have made a lasting impact on people’s lives – and ISV is rapidly empowering new business partners to serve much larger communities all over the world.”

In addition to lighting the Lingshed Monastery, ISV supported Global Himalayan Expedition to install a total of 65 solar grids across Ladakh India, which directly serve over 2,200 people with light and access to education and economic opportunities made possible by electricity. Meanwhile other ISV startups, each pledging to serve a million people, are currently serving over 50,000 people and expanding rapidly in Africa, India and Papua New Guinea.

For more information about IEEE Smart Village, please visit For more information on BREAKTHROUGH, please visit and follow National Geographic on Facebook and Twitter.


IEEE Smart Village integrates sustainable electricity, education, and entrepreneurial solutions to empower off-grid communities. Through a global network of local entrepreneurs, expert engineers, and passionate volunteers, we work together in partnership to help empower local economies, create job opportunities, and foster education programs that help communities around the world learn to continually improve their quality of life. Learn more at


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