Solar Bangladesh

Georgia Power’s idea of “distributed” is 2 to 20 Megawatt solar farms doled out over several years. Bangladesh reminds us how distributed is really done.

Justin Guay wrote for ThinkProgress 18 Dec 2012, Small Is Big: Bangladesh Installs One Million Solar Home Systems

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-scale 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.

How is this possible?

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, Indian states that have off-grid populations larger than most European nations.

How 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 and Chief Ministers whose political futures are increasingly reliant on clean energy access in India).

Our rural south Georgia people mostly aren’t without electricity, but many of them are paying far too much for it ($200, $300, or even $600 a month). What we don’t have is solar financing and political will.

We know what needs to be done. Stop the nuclear boondoggle. Get the 1973 Territorial Electric Act out of the way. Use those funds to finance real distributed solar, along with private capital freed up by liberalizing PPMs. Then we’ll see solar jobs here in south Georgia, and people won’t have to pay $300/month for electricity.