Saturday, December 11, 2010

1000 Solar Gardens in Rural Bangladesh

Grameen Shakti (part of Grameen bank, the original micro-lending organization founded by Nobel laureate Mohammad Yunas) is projecting 220,000 off-grid home solar systems installed in rural Bangledesh this year.  If you follow the link to "micro-utility" you'll find that there are over 1000 shared systems - more solar gardens than the United States, by far.


There are some very poor consumers who cannot afford a complete solar home system. In order to help such consumers, GS has introduced micro-utility system. Under this model, one entrepreneur installs the system at his own premise and share the load with some of his neighbours.  Owner of the system is responsible for making installment payments to GS, more than 50% of which is covered by the rents he collects from the users of his system. Micro-utility model has become very popular in the rural market places and has helped to increase business turnover by extending business hours. More than 1000 micro-utility systems are operating in the rural market places.

Solar Home Systems Better Life More Income
Solar Home Systems (SHSs) has brought lighting facilities and related advantages such as mobile phones, computers, internet connection to remote, isolated areas including islands, Chittagong Hill tracts. This has brought significant improvements in the standard of livings of the people better light for children education and household activities for women, reduced in-door air pollution, more security and income generation opportunities including reduced work load for women etc.

Businesses such as rice/saw mills, grocery /tailoring shops, restaurants, market places etc with the help of SHSs have increased their income by extending working hours after dusk. (Case 1: A Saw mill owner, Mr. Hanif has increased his business turnover because of extended business hours). Besides PV systems have opened up new opportunities for employment and income generation activities such as community television centers, electronic repairing shops, mobile phone shops etc. (Case 2: Mr Manik has increased efficiency with SHS at his electronic repair shop).

In addition women are enjoying hazardless and hassle free lighting systems in their daily life. They are getting the opportunities to earn extra income by utilizing their time after dusk by sewing, poultry farming or setting home based industries. (Case 3: Laxmi Rani is running a successful handicraft industry with the help of SHS).

Two very successful applications of SHS are micro-utility model and SHS powered Polli-phone. Micro-utility an initiative by GS has provided thousands of shopkeepers with extended business hours and increased business turnover by giving them the opportunity to share lights of a SHS among themselves (Case 4 : Mr. Umar renting solar lamps to other shopkeepers). Polli Phone has created a successful synergy between women and technology - thousands of women are running profitable mobile phones business in off grid areas; their mobile phones powered by GS installed SHSs. (Case 5: Different religious institutions such as mosques, pagodas, churches are increasingly using SHSs. Different community based organizations such as health clinics, educational institutions are also using SHSs).