Rural Bangladesh Taps Into Solar Power With World Bank Funding

The number of homes and shops equipped with solar power systems in rural Bangladesh doubled in the last year to more than 870,000 with the help of funding from the World Bank and other organizations, according to a World Bank report. In 2009, the World Bank provided $130 million to support government initiatives to reach remote parts of Bangladesh that would otherwise not be connected to the national grid. Fewer than half the people in Bangladesh have access to electricity. “With a small [solar] connection one can power four lamps and one black and white television set,” said Ruhul Quddus of Rural Services Foundation, a Bangladeshi charity that installs solar units. For Bangladesh, which already faces 2,000 megawatts of electricity shortages, finding new sources of power will become increasingly critical as population growth, industrialization, and a rise in the use of electrical appliances adds another 500 megawatts of demand annually. In another report, U.S.-based advisory firm KPMG LLP predicts that India, Asia’s third-largest energy consumer, may be able to produce electricity from solar power as cheaply as from coal by 2017.