The Mongolian government has vastly overhauled the energy structure of the herders and nomadic people of the northern highlands. This project has been so effective that 70% of Mongolian nomads now have solar power.
By installing portable solar home systems in the gers (tents made of yak’s wool and felt), they have made life much easier for people where the sun shines about 250 days a year.
The main things this electricity is used for are improved food refrigeration, cell phones usage and televisions to watch the weather forecast, which is essential in the life of a shepherd. They no longer have to make a long trek to a nearby village to charge their telephone.
The cell phone has been revolutionary for the life of nomadic people, giving them greater connectivity and organization. Internet usage also increased by 1000% between 2000 (1.1%) and 2010 (11.3%) Often, the children are sent away to boarding schools and now, for the first time, the parents are able to charge their phones from home and keep in touch regularly.
According to Bor, a herder in the Arkhangai province, “most countryside children stay in dorms, because their parents are nomads and it is the only way they can get an education. We can call our children who are in the dorms and speak to them. I also have children working in Ulaanbaatar [Mongolia’s capital] and I can speak to them as well. The solar panels are a very useful thing in our lives.”