Clean Power

Published on November 17th, 2011 | by Andrew


World Bank Bringing Solar Power to Over 1 Million Homes, Shops in Rural Bangladesh

November 17th, 2011 by  

Photo courtesy of Solar for Bangladesh

Only around 1/3 of rural residents in Bangladesh have access to electricity. Some 16 million homes have yet to be connected to an electricity grid. That’s changing fast with help from the World Bank.

On October 4, the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) approved a $172 million credit facility to support installation of solar power and other renewable energy ‘mini-grid’ systems for as many as 630,000 more homes in rural Bangladesh.

The funds add to the IDA’s Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Development Project (RERED) in Bangladesh, which aims to install solar power systems on more than 1 million rural Bangladeshi homes and businesses by 2012. This latest financing follows an additional $130 million the World Bank awarded RERED in December, 2009.

More than 300,000 solar home systems have already been installed via the IDA’s RERED program. The latest IDA credit facility has a 40-year term to maturity with a 10-year grace period and carries a 0.75% service charge.

RERED in Bangladesh, and Around the World

On the ground in Bangladesh, the program’s being carried out by the Infrastructure Development Co. (IDCOL), a financial institution owned by the Bangladeshi government. Partner organizations, primarily non-profit NGOs, install the solar power systems.

“More than a million homes and shops in remote areas have installed solar home systems with support from the World Bank and other development partners. Such systems are the most suitable for remote and dispersed communities which the grid connection cannot reach.” said Ellen Goldstein, World Bank country director for Bangladesh in a press release.

“The solar home systems have already improved the quality of life of millions of people in Bangladesh and provided opportunities for new village enterprises.’’

The IDA’s RERED program is helping bring clean, renewable energy and rural economic development Afghanistan, Cambodia, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Yemen, as well as Bangladesh.

The IDA program’s been up and running for a decade in Bangladesh. In addition to financing installation of solar power systems, it funds grid connection efforts.

It’s also helped design and implement an energy efficiency program, the Efficient Lighting Initiative, that set set a one-day record by distributing 5 million compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) in a single day, potentially reducing electricity demand by 50 megawatts (MW). The IDA helped Bangladesh obtain Carbon Financing for the project and is working with the government to build CFL manufacturing facilities to meet replacement CFL demand.

For more on growing use of solar power and renewable energy around the world, check out:

10 Cleantech Projects
Give Solar while Going Solar
– Cleantech Continues to Rise as an Emerging Global Industry: Report

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About the Author

I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.

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  • Anonymous

    This might be the storage solution needed – Aquion’s “salt water” sodium-ion batteries.

    As cheap as lead acid batteries, perhaps cheaper. Thousands of charge/discharge cycles vs. 500-1,000 for lead acid batteries. Demonstration batteries have experienced 5,000 cycles with no decrease in performance. The company expects >20,000 cycles.

    More cycles means more years use before replacement. (I’m currently getting 5-8 years from lead acid batteries with my off the grid system. 5k cycles would mean 25-40 years. 20k cycles boggles the mind.)

    Can be 100% discharged without damage. Lead acid batteries are normally limited to an 80% discharge. That means one would have to purchase many fewer amp hours of batteries to get the same performance.

    High tolerance to battery mismatch. People could add additional batteries as funds allow. Can’t do that with lead acid (performance will drop to that of the weakest battery).

    No self discharge or problems in high heat conditions.

    Smaller and lighter than lead acid. Easier/cheaper to ship.

    100% recyclable.

    Apparently the battery has been tested by multiple independent labs and has passed their tests.

    The company has received $30 million in initial financing. They are currently deciding where to build their first factory and expect to be shipping product in 2013.

    Let’s keep our fingers crossed for them….

  • Anonymous

    Solar panel prices are dropping rapidly. LEDs are getting cheaper. The third part of the system, batteries, need improvement.

    People using these stand alone systems are pretty much limited to lead acid batteries which have to be replaced every few years. We need a push to get batteries or ultracapacitors with much longer lifespan into people’s hands at an affordable price.

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