Innovative Solar Systems in Rural Bangladesh

Clean energy access for everyone is not as unreachable or unreasonable as the oil companies would have us believe.  A perfect and extremely inspirational example comes from one of the poorest regions in the world: rural Bangladesh.  In rural communities, one thousand solar home systems are being installed per day with the help of the company Grameen Shakti.  In a world where 1.3 billion people live without electricity, Shakti’s green energy solutions are indispensable.

Grameen Shakti’s work in Bangladesh is poking holes in conservative ideas that solar energy is ‘too expensive’ and ‘not a viable solution’ to our energy issues.  In places where villagers are the poorest and energy markets should theoretically be the hardest to serve, Shakti is making tremendous advancements in clean energy solutions.

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The company tailors solar systems directly to the needs of rural villagers.  This street vendor (pictured above) received a 25W solar system to power his cart and cassette player, as well as a small loan that he was able to repay quite easily since the solar energy system allowed him to double his monthly income.

To address difficulties of reaching remote rural areas, the company creates supply chains within the villages.  Technicians live and work in the villages themselves to ensure all the installed solar systems continue running smoothly.

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Shakti also set up technology and training centres throughout Bangladesh.  These centres produce and repair solar accessories, keeping capital from production within the villages, and they are managed by women engineers.  These women live and work in the rural communities as well, offering them new opportunities for energy entrepreneurship.

This inspirational story proves that alternative energies are not ‘too expensive’, and rural communities are not ‘too difficult to serve’.  Shakti has installed over 5 million solar energy systems thus far, and adds one thousand per day to that figure.  If our governments and development agencies invested in projects like these instead of Big Oil, constructing a green energy economy would be achievable and practical.  We need only look beyond our familiar habits in North America to realize there are inventive and sophisticated alternatives being developed around the globe.  It’s time we followed their examples.

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