Bangladesh: fight poverty with solar energy

Feb 21, 2017 | written by:

Have you ever tried to consider how we take for granted continued access to electricity? Perhaps the occurrence of a blackout, or more simply when the power goes out. The electricity, even in very limited quantities, is crucial to the quality of life of individuals: lighting, communications, heating, pumping water for hygienic uses and services for small businesses are just some of the activities that could not be separated from the use energy.

Bangladesh, one of the cradles of microcredit, witnessing today a new revolution: it has become one of the world's major markets in the field of home solar systems. The spread of panels for energy production in semi-rural areas not served by the main utility power, has assumed a crucial role in the fight against poverty. The residents of these remote areas were compelled to resort to kerosene and noisy diesel generators, which are used by whole villages for part of the night lamps.

Since 2003, the Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCol), a leading company in the sector participated by the local government, has installed 3.95 million small solar panels off-grid - that is autonomous of the supply from the main network - on the same number of homes, reaching over 18 million people.

Bangladesh is the most densely populated country in the world and due to its limited size, it’s easy to reach all regions of the national territory by land. A major benefit if we consider the difficulties that a company like Selco, the IDCol twin in nearby, very large and heterogeneous India, had to overcome to install 'only' 350 thousand residential solar panels since 1995.

Mahmood Malik, executive director of IDCol, describes the advent of this technology in poor rural areas as "a silent revolution you can’t feel sitting in the city." Solar energy is available, renewable and cheaper in the long run of kerosene lamps and oil-fired generators. Estimates report that, compared to a monthly spending of 3,000 taka (about $ 38) to which the inhabitants of rural areas were used to provide, the installation of solar panels require an initial investment of 6,500 taka (about $ 83), that a farmer believes it will pay off in two years, and then monthly expenses to 1,355 taka (about $ 17).

In a country with a typical tropical climate, manufacturers have had to think of everything. Each panel is easily removable, to be put indoors in case of extreme weather event. Substantial support to the fight against poverty.

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