Although roof-mounted photovoltaic panels may not be a common sight yet in the West, the technology is really heating up in Asia – specifically in Bangladesh. According to local officials, the number of solar-powered households in the Asian nation now amounts to over one million. Under-investment in the country’s infrastructure means that the country’s power plants only generate around 4,700 megawatts of electricity a day against a demand of 6,000 megawatts, so some 60 percent of Bangladesh’s 150 million people have no access to mains electricity. As a result, the power-hungry, fair-weathered country has exhibited the fastest expansion of solar technology in the world.
Bangladesh’ embrace of solar power has shown quite a meteroic rise – especially considering that in 2002, only 7,000 homes in Bangladesh used solar energy. Today, according to Nazmul Haq of the Infrastructure Development Company (IDCOL), it now benefits five million people. “It’s the fastest expansion of solar energy anywhere in the world,” Haq told PhysOrg. “We crossed the one million threshold more than 18 months ahead of schedule (and) we have set a new target to cross 2.5 million by 2014,” he said.
IDCOL is responsible for financing clean energy projects, and they saw the benefits of solar power as many households in Bangladesh are not on the national grid. With the help of NGOs, households could finance the purchase of photovoltaic panels in small monthly payments. If only solar panels were as affordable in the West.
Images from IDCOL