OBA in Energy: In Rural Bangladesh, Solar Power Dents Poverty

    KAKHIN BIMILE, Bangladesh — Kismat Ali is a 33-year-old mason living in Kakhin Bimile, a village a few hours drive from Dhaka, Bangladesh’s crowded capital. He lives in a large brick home on a dirt road with his wife, son, parents and five brothers. This semirural area is off the main electrical grid, so residents rely on kerosene lamps and electricity from wires strung across the village to a noisy privately owned diesel generator. It runs about five hours each night.\

     

    But Mr. Ali has a new source of electricity he can turn to: solar panels on his corrugated metal roof. In his home, he flicks a light switch and a bare bulb glows from the ceiling. Mr. Ali proudly switches on a fan that stirs the stultifying summer air. He says he wants to have a television one day, but is waiting for an LED TV that would consume less energy than models available now.

     

    Solar energy is reliable, clean and cheaper in the long run than kerosene and the village’s generator. It costs about 3,000 taka ($38) a month for the diesel generator to light a three-room house. But for the solar equipment, Mr. Ali pays 1,355 taka ($17) in monthly installments after a down payment of 6,500 taka ($83) on a loan he expects to pay off within two years.

     

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