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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Bringing electricity to the poor

Another of the false claims of the dotty denialists is that by discouraging the expansion of coal mining and coal-fired power stations, somehow we are denying poor people the right to the benefits we enjoy of on demand electricity.  The problems with that point of view are, though, that it's not the absence of generation capacity which keeps electricity from poor people, but the absence of a grid; and that the poor and poor countries will be the worst affected by climate change.

So what can be done?  A piece in IEEFA"s blog discusses the roll-out of solar to the poor in Bangladesh.  In Bangladesh, 25% of the population does not have access to the grid.

In rural Bangladesh, especially the coastal southwest, it is common to see tiny solar panels embedded even in humble thatch-roofed huts. This is mostly the work of Infrastructure Development Company Limited (Idcol), a government-backed Bangladeshi energy and infrastructure group that claims more than 90 percent of the country’s booming home solar market. 
Since 2003, Idcol has installed solar panels in 3.95 million off-grid homes, reaching 18 million people. In terms of individual units served (rather than total wattage), 
Bangladesh has become one of the world’s largest markets for home solar systems. 
Since electricity — even in small doses — powers lamps, cellphones, fans, water pumps, health clinics and equipment for businesses, it is critical in improving the lives of the poor. 
Mahmood Malik, chief executive of Idcol in Dhaka, calls its arrival for the rural poor “a silent revolution you can’t feel sitting in the city.”

Read more here.  Of course, the obvious benefit of distributed generation is that you don't need the grid.  Unfortunately, as this article points out, Bangladesh itself is not doing enough to transition to a green grid.

Incidentally, Bangladesh which is situated on the alluvial delta of the Ganges, is the most vulnerable country in the world to rising sea levels.  16% of its land area would disappear into the sea with just a 1.5 metre rise in the sea level.

(Source)

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