Quantcast

How On-Site Solar Energy Projects are Changing the World

Renewable Energy

Sierra Club

By Justin Guay

A few months back Nancy Wimmer told us about Bangladesh's solar success. In one of the poorest countries on earth, a renewable energy company, Grameen Shakti, is busy installing nearly 1,000 solar home systems each day. It turns out all that small solar has achieved something quite big. In November Grameen Shakti hit one million Solar Home Systems installed. The company's milestone reinforces a lesson that is increasingly clear: Whether it's Germany, the U.S., or even China, distributed solar installations are driving the solar revolution.

The Bangladesh story is particularly exciting because Grameen has single handedly shattered the energy 'axioms' on which the international policy community has relied for decades: "Renewable energy is too expensive." Wrong! "Even if solar makes sense, the poor can't afford it or they won't pay." Wrong. "The grid will come regardless so off-grid, decentralized energy is a waste of time, money and effort." Wrong, wrong, wrong. What Bangladesh does prove is that Carl Pope is right: deploying solar makes the most sense for off-grid areas where the economics are compelling and the need is great.

That's what makes the next phase of the solar revolution even more exciting. Today we are talking about 1 million solar home systems in Bihar, but tomorrow we could easily be talking about tens of millions in either Bihar or Uttar Pradesh (UP), Indian states that have off-grid populations larger than most European nations.

But why would either of these states be able to replicate such an awe-inspiring feat? Because they have the exact same ingredients for success: a robust rural banking sector (Micro Finance through Grameen Shakti for Bangladesh, State Banks for India), a demonstrated need (large numbers of un-electrified people) and policy support (World Bank finance for Bangladesh, Chief Ministers whose political futures are increasingly reliant on clean energy access in India). The last ingredient being reliant on policymakers understanding that energy's presence, not price, changes lives.

In fact the next phase is already here, a distributed clean energy revolution is brewing in Bihar and the next distributed solar hotbed is developing in UP. While billions are squandered on a failed grid extension approach that is destroying the climate, and displacing local communities, the political leaders of these states, responsible for hundreds of millions of un-electrified people, are getting very serious about off-grid, decentralized clean energy solutions.

So here's our policy lesson in a nutshell: Bangladesh is the world's demonstration case for an off-grid clean energy access plan that delivers. Bihar and UP are the next phase that will take this approach to scale. Maybe, just maybe, 1.3 billion people later, the message—small solar is big—will finally sink in.

Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.

——–

Tell Congress to Expedite Renewable Energy and Pass a Federal Energy Policy:

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pick one of these nine activism styles, and you can start making change. YES! Illustrations by Delphine Lee

By Cathy Brown

Most of us have heard about UN researchers warning that we need to make dramatic changes in the next 12 years to limit our risk of extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty caused by climate change. Report after report about a bleak climate future can leave people in despair.

Read More Show Less
Jamie Grill Photography / Getty Images

Losing weight, improving heart health and decreasing your chances for metabolic diseases like diabetes may be as simple as cutting back on a handful of Oreos or saying no to a side of fries, according to a new study published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
A boy gives an impromptu speech about him not wanting to die in the next 10 years during the protest on July 15. The Scottish wing of the Extinction Rebellion environmental group of Scotland locked down Glasgow's Trongate for 12 hours in protest of climate change. Stewart Kirby / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

It's important to remember that one person can make a difference. From teenagers to world-renowned scientists, individuals are inspiring positive shifts around the world. Maybe you won't become a hard-core activist, but this list of people below can inspire simple ways to kickstart better habits. Here are seven people advocating for a better planet.

Read More Show Less
A group of wind turbines in a field in Banffshire, Northeast Scotland. Universal Images Group / Getty Images

Scotland produced enough power from wind turbines in the first half of 2019, that it could power Scotland twice over. Put another way, it's enough energy to power all of Scotland and most of Northern England, according to the BBC — an impressive step for the United Kingdom, which pledged to be carbon neutral in 30 years.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Beekeeper Jeff Anderson works with members of his family in this photo from 2014. He once employed all of his adult children but can no longer afford to do so. CHRIS JORDAN-BLOCH / EARTHJUSTICE

By Jessica A. Knoblauch

It's been a particularly terrible summer for bees. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is allowing the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor back on the market. And just a few weeks prior, the USDA announced it is suspending data collection for its annual honeybee survey, which tracks honeybee populations across the U.S., providing critical information to farmers and scientists.

Read More Show Less

tommaso79 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Rachel Licker

As a new mom, I've had to think about heat safety in many new ways since pregnant women and young children are among the most vulnerable to extreme heat.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

It's easy to get confused about which foods are healthy and which aren't.

Read More Show Less