|Photovoltaic Household Electrification Programs - Best Practices (WB)|
Governments across the developing world have made rural electrification a high priority over the last two decades. Yet despite the rapid expansion of the power sector during this period, by 1990, only about 44 percent of the more than 3.3 billion people living in rural areas had access to grid-based electricity. Given the constraints of high capital costs and maintenance, there is little chance of achieving universal rural electrification through conventional grid services.
Off-grid PV systems can generate sufficient electricity to provide households with lighting and power for small appliances. PV modules can also be combined to meet larger energy requirements for other household services or for productive uses in activities such as agricultural processing or cottage industries. However, formidable barriers, including the high initial cost of PV systems, keep this technically and economically viable technology beyond the reach of most rural families.
Case studies of recent experiences in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and the Dominican Republic have identified key ingredients for successful residential PV programs and ways to overcome financial and institutional barriers to the use of PV systems. These case studies were commissioned by ASTAE, with the cooperation of the German BMZ/GTZ. In addition to the studies, ASTAE has consulted with World Bank staff and PV professionals world-wide on experiences with PV systems in developing countries. This process has reinforced the main conclusions of this Report: that PV systems are a viable complement to grid-based energy service delivery and that within the rural electrification framework such systems can find a cost-effective niche and sustainable market. It has also yielded insights on best practices to improve prospects for successful project design and implementation.
ASTAE was created by the World Bank, with support from the Netherlands Ministry of Development Cooperation, the US Department of Energy, and other donors. The Unit's mandate is to stimulate environmentally sustainable and commercially viable renewable energy and demand-side management investments in Asia. I share, as do ASTAE donors, the belief that PV systems can provide least-cost light and power service to small, dispersed residential communities. We hope that this Report will catalyze further action among public and private planners and developers to improve the quality of life for rural families.
Harold W. Messenger
Asia Technical Department