Almost two billion people in developing countries, one third of the world’s population, have no access to electricity. Connecting rural communities to regional hydro grids is cost prohibitive, requires significant infrastructure expenditures and does not always bring the projected benefits. These communities are dependent on diesel-generated electricity, fuel wood, agricultural residues, human power and draught animals as the primary energy sources for millions of rural families.
Finding alternative sources of energy that are cost effective, can be implemented more easily and are environmentally friendly for these rural communities is crucial for governments and global organizations. With a decade of substantial improvement in efficiencies and a reduction in installation and operating costs, solar power is a preferred energy solution to improve the quality of life in rural communities. Solar power can be used to increase agricultural productivity, improve health care and education; water supply for consumption, irrigation and livestock; food preparation and refrigeration; veterinary services; communication; and creating new opportunities to earn income.
Adding electric-powered wells for clean water can prevent many water-borne diseases, e.g. dysentery, by reducing or eliminating direct contact between people (hands) and the water supply. Refrigerators increase the length of time that food can be stored, potentially reducing
hunger, while evening lighting can lengthen a community’s daylight hours allowing more time for productivity.
Governments are perpetually searching for affordable and effective solutions to address these needs and concerns. Improvements in efficiencies and reduced installation and maintenance costs have made solar power the perfect solution for these ongoing world issues. Governments and global organizations throughout the world have been aggressively investing in solar solutions, with business development banks making solar energy systems eligible for loans and global organizations like USAID leading the push for energy, agriculture, education and health sectors to work together to promote solar technologies and the inherent benefits.