A growing trend to electrify rural areas is emerging due to entrepreneurs finding creative ways to implement solar technology. There are family solar units, which are kits placed in homes used to power lights and small devices. Some villages have adopted community panels, either fully or partially subsidized by various organizations, that can be used to charge multiple phones and electronic devices. Solar centers, with multiple solar stalls, are also prevalent in these communities, where members can pay for time to use electricity.
However, the question arises: what determines the viability of these projects?
Take Harish Hande for example. As the founder of SELCO, Harish solved a problem in rural India where no one believed he could succeed. With his goal to reduce poverty through the electrification of the poor, Hande teamed up with banks in Bangalore, who provided the solar products, while micro-financing institutions provided the start-up capital. But what made his work different was the years he spent in India, learning the ways of the people he was helping. Through his work, he reached over hundreds of thousands of low-income Indians, improving their daily lives and productivity, slowly alleviating poverty one step at a time.
This leads us to ask whether it’s the understanding of a community that proves to be more valuable for implementation of solar. The technology exists, but it’s the tailored application that may determine its feasibility. Each community has economic and social conditions, variables that if considered and truly understood, could help raise the standard of living. It’s through innovators like Hande that we can see solar benefitting the common man. Today, solar on the rural level is even more viable than we think. All it takes is a bit of creativity and time.
Photo by Engineering For Change