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29 Oct 2009: 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 conference in California. To date, just 1 percent of solar panel production has been installed in poor nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, a situation that Michael Eckhart, president of the American Council on Renewable Energy, called “a scandal for our industry.” Eckhart and other experts said that in addition to finding financing to help low-income residents install solar panels, a major challenge is purchasing and replacing the batteries to store electricity at night and on cloudy days. Another significant hurdle is replacing the energy-wasting incandescent bulbs and old, inefficient appliances and computers often used by village households. One expert who has installed off-the-grid solar arrays in Africa and China said in regions where villagers use compact fluorescent bulbs and efficient appliances the cost of installing an adequate solar array and battery can be 75 percent cheaper.

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