January 26, 2015

LEARNING FROM OUR MISTAKES:

Africa's quiet solar revolution : The continent skipped land lines for mobile phones. Now a new generation of start-ups is trying to bring sun power to rural Africa - and leapfrog the fossil fuel era.  (Lorena Galliot, JANUARY 25, 2015, CS Monitor)

Until recently, the lack of electricity in many poor areas was seen as something of an inevitable fact of life. Building power grids across long distances to reach remote communities is slow and costly, and when the people in those communities are subsistence farmers living on less than $2 a day, the returns often fail to justify the massive investment.

Now, however, a new solar energy movement is bringing kilowatts to previously unlit areas of Africa - and changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. The idea behind the latest effort isn't to tap the power of the sun to electrify every appliance in a household. Instead, it is to install a small solar panel not much bigger than an iPad to power a few lights, a cellphone charger, and other basic necessities that can still significantly alter people's lives.

Going smaller better fits the budgets of the rural poor. People use the money they normally would spend on kerosene to finance their solar systems, allowing them to pay in small, affordable installments and not rely on government help. The concept is called pay-as-you-go solar. 

Posted by at January 26, 2015 4:15 AM
  

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