It was recently announced that the number of Bangladeshi households producing their own electricity through solar power has passed the one million mark, demonstrating the fastest solar industry expansion in the world.
Bangladesh had set a goal of powering one million households with solar energy by 2013, but achieved the landmark 18 months ahead of time. Officials say that over 5 million Bangladeshis now have access to home electricity because of solar technologies.
Without access to affordable electricity, some 60 percent of Bangladeshi’s population must rely indoor fires for heat and kerosene lamps for lighting. Both of these energy sources pollute indoor air and increase health risks.
According to the AFP, years of under-investment in infrastructure means state-owned power plants generate only around 4,700 megawatts of electricity a day against demand of 6,000 megawatts — which is growing by 500 megawatts a year.
Increasing funding for solar power development in rural area is one way developing countries could bypass the seemingly requisite dependence on fossil fuels.
Attracting companies that will manufacture, install, and train local residents to maintain solar systems instead of spending money to build coal, gas, and nuclear power plants would allow developing countries to compete with or even surpass Western countries that are dragging their feet on renewable technologies.
Encouraged by its success, Bangladesh has set a new target to achieve 2.5 million solar-powered homes by 2014.
Image Credit: Flickr - dirvish