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close this bookRural Energy and Development: Improving Energy Supply for Two Billion People (WB, 1996, 132 p.)
close this folderChapter five - Innovations in renewable energy
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentTechnical progress in using the solar resource
View the documentPolicies toward new renewable energy sources in rural areas
View the documentProgram development
View the documentPrices
View the documentCredit
View the documentTaxes and subsidies

Policies toward new renewable energy sources in rural areas

New renewable energy technologies still account for less than 2 percent of the primary energy supplies of developing countries. but in light of their promise. with good economic and environmental policies and with the development of the necessary support systems for installation and maintenance. their market shares should expand Investments will also be required to acquaint energy engineers and managers with the technologies and to educate and train engineers and skilled workers As with all new and innovative technologies. developing the best approaches will take a good deal of effort (and some trial and error).

A recent review of PV programs in the Pacific islands (Liebenthal. Mathur, and Wade 1994), for example. found that many PV systems tailed after installation, and it was only when supporting services were introduced that the programs began to succeed. These services included training technicians. ensuring timely maintenance. collecting tees on a regular basis, providing proper oversight to prevent the diversion of revenues to other projects, and obtaining prompt feedback on needs from local user communities and passing the information on to the supplying utility Similarly, a program in India introduced PVs in several states for domestic and street lighting, community televisions, water pumping, and other purposes during 1986-93 Yet out of more than 5,000 street lights. more than half in some states all were not working a short while later, and the other applications exhibited similar failure rates The findings were particularly disturbing because PVs are durable, are relatively simple to install. and require little maintenance. As in the Pacific Islands. the problem turned out to be the lack of supporting services


Solar home systems using PV technologies have the potential to provide electricity to a large number of rural households. In Indonesia 3,000 solar home units were installed during 1988-92. A recent evaluation found that the units are working as planned Today, more than 16,000 units have been installed through public programs and by commercial dealers.

In a typical 50-watt-peak system, a solar PV panel is installed on the roof of a rural home or shop The panel charges an automobile-type battery that is used at night to run up to four energy-efficient light bulbs and a black and-white TV or a radio for four to five hours a day - approximately equivalent to consumption of 0.5 kWh of grid electricity per day Systems ranging from 20-watt-peak (for lighting alone) to 200-watt-peak (for schools, meeting halls. or higher-consumption households) have also been used successfully.

Solar home system units offer a fast and least-cost means of providing decentralized rural electrification in two "niche" markets: (a) where the grid may be nearby, but consumers are dispersed and the load density is low, making grid extension to individual consumers expensive; and (b) where the grid is more distant and is not expected to be extended soon (see the figure) In these two markets combined, the economic potential for solar home systems in Indonesia is estimated at more than 5 million of the approximately 30 million rural households that lack grid supply.

Solar home systems also offer (a) superior quality and quantity of light, compared with kerosene lamps, along with absence of indoor fumes, pollution. and fire hazard associated with such lamps; (b) no need to haul battery to a central charging facility; and (c) environmental benefits One environmental problem that must be dealt with in all solar home projects involves ensuring proper disposal or recycling of batteries

Source: Arun Sanghvi, internal communication

Grid Extension and Solar PV Switchover Values Outside Java Grid 3 Kilometer Medium-Voltage Extension

Successful programs require two main ingredients: (a) paying proper attention to program development. for example. initiating surveys of renewable energy resources. carrying out project identification and preparation, and investing in education and training: and (b) creating good enabling conditions through economically efficient pricing. credit. and tax policies