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Solar home systems grow fastest in BD

BANGLADESH now has the fastest growing solar home systems programme in the world with more than 50,000 new installations a month, the World Bank said in a statement recently.

The lender has been supporting the programme to provide electricity to rural households since 2002 through the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Development Project.

The solar home systems consist of a solar panel, a battery, and a charge controller. The battery is charged by solar energy, which in turn provides electricity to the households.

With support from the WB and other development partners, about two million solar home systems have already been installed in the rural areas.

The lender has contributed about US$492 million to the project that ended in December 2012.

Recognising the project’s success in providing rural electricity, the WB in September last year approved the second phase of the project worth US$155 million to further the initiative.

The second phase will support provision of 550,000 solar homes systems in rural areas, renewable energy-based mini-grids, replacement of diesel irrigation pumps with solar pumps, dissemination of clean cook stoves and deployment of energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps.

Technical assistance to the power sector will also be provided.

The government-owned Infrastructure Development Company Ltd and non-government organisations, such as Grameen Shakti, Rural Services Foundation and many others, have partnered the effort.

Solar home systems are economically-viable solutions to get electricity to villages where electricity grids would be too expensive to build.

These systems meet the basic electricity needs of rural people, who would have otherwise been dependent on kerosene lamps for lighting.

The electricity provided from the systems has helped children spend more time studying, and new opportunities are emerging for village enterprises.

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