A solar energy boom in rural Asia

I really like the New York Times and its international edition, the International Herald Tribune. It gives a formidable insight on both today’s and tomorrow’s world. Today’s issue got two interesting articles.

Today’s first article that caught my attention was about a solar boom in Asia. Indeed, the demand  for solar photovoltaic is due to explode in the near future as faraway villages are equipping themselves with such energy sources.

The market is particularly important in India where forty percent of people still do not have access to electricity (we are talking about nearly half a million people there).

With falling prices, it starts to be feasible for these people to buy PV panels. The investment, of course, is a very large one for such poor communities. But it is replacing kerosene and candles, which on the long run, can represent similar investments.

Cheaper panels, combined with lower interest rates since the financial crisis, have helped put solar energy systems within the financial reach of poorer nations, said Anil Cabraal, an alternative energy expert who, until his retirement from the World Bank in April, got many of the bank’s solar projects in Asia and Africa under way over the past decade.

Under the solar initiative it announced this year, the Asian Development Bank hopes to help put in place solar power projects with a total capacity of 3,000 megawatts by 2013.

The total operating capacity now is less than 500 megawatts. (One megawatt is enough to cover the power demand of about 200 homes, or 1,000 people, in developing Asia.)

The solar mission in India aims to have 20,000 megawatts of grid-connected solar energy by 2022, up from only about 2 megawatts now.

It also wants to help increase off-grid solar energy, currently at about 20 megawatts a year, to 10 times that amount by 2013, and to 2,000 megawatts by 2022.

The government has committed $20 billion to the program and is hoping it will attract additional investments from the private and financial sectors, said Gauri Singh, a senior official at the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in New Delhi.

For more on this most encouraging trend, please read the full article. I look forward to reading your comments.

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