Solar Power Potential Is Huge in Developing Countries

The developing world, where 44 percent of people lack access to electricity, could soon be one of the biggest markets for solar power,according to participants at the Solar Power International conferencein California. To date, just 1 percent of solar panel production hasbeen installed in poor nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, asituation that Michael Eckhart, president of the American Council onRenewable Energy, called “a scandal for our industry.” Eckhart andother experts said that in addition to finding financing to helplow-income residents install solar panels, a major challenge ispurchasing and replacing the batteries to store electricity at nightand on cloudy days. Another significant hurdle is replacing theenergy-wasting incandescent bulbs and old, inefficient appliances andcomputers often used by village households. One expert who hasinstalled off-the-grid solar arrays in Africa and China said the costof a installing a solar array and battery can be 75 percent cheaper inregions where villagers use compact fluorescent bulbs and efficientappliances.

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